The Big Talk With Your Ageing Parents – How?

 You start seeing and respecting your parents from a wholly new perspective when you get kids. And this new perspective can truly bring home the crushing fact – you and your parents are approaching a time when your parent-child roles might very well reverse.Discussing their future now in a constructive and practical way can take the edge off that intimidating scenario. This first step often feels the most difficult to make. If your parents are still hale and hearty, you can easily be tempted to put this hurtful conversation off, but that’d be sweeping the subject under the rug. Life is unpredictable and you never know when a disaster will struck, leaving you to re-organize your life and take on weighty new responsibilities in a matter of days.

Here are some cues that it’s high time you talk to your aging parent about how they would like to have things organized when they are no longer capable to be independent.

  • Changes in dietary habits, especially when coupled with a weight loss or gain
  • Lower standards of personal hygiene
  • Messier and dirtier home
  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Increased forgetfulness and weaker concentration – this can reflect in burnt pots, dings and dents on the car, missed appointments, forgotten medication, etc.

All these signs can not only indicate that your parent needs more assistance with daily activities, but also that senior depression could be working behind the scenes.

So, how do you address the elephant in room?

Hey, elephant…

Arranging a designated family meeting could be better than dropping the bomb during Sunday tea, especially if you have siblings or family members that should be included too. If you live far away from your parents, avoid having the conversation over Skype or phone. Even though every family is a story in itself, this kind of conversation will stir some emotions and they are best shared and dealt with in person.

Prep yourself before the talk. Writing questions down could seem a tad too businessy, but at least you’ll have a clear head when thinking about all the things you need to go over. Not only will that list be your safety net in case your emotions get the better of you, but you can also jot down your parents’ answers and things to follow up on. If that seems callous, try seeing it as relieving your motorway-paced mind of important things to remember.

It’s vital that you both listen carefully to what your parents say, but also be straightforward about your own possibilities and capacities. This goes for your financial and housing situation, as well as the amount of time and energy you have to care for your parents. It would be smart to do some research beforehand, to know what caring for aging parents can include and how it can be managed. There are medical, legal and financial matters to discuss and if you are new to this situation, you need some guidelines to know what can be expected.

If you face a wall

You may already know that your parents are extremely resistant about the topic. What you can do in that case is approach the subject indirectly by discussing what should be done if they ever fall victim to a natural disaster. Use something that is common in your area, like a fire or flood. This article suggests that you tap the current news headlines.

Just talk

Talking about the future of your aging parents is never easy, for anyone. There’s no point in waiting for a day when the timing, your mood or their mood is just right. Do some prep and bite the bullet. It could be motivating to realize that this type of talk is actually best done when the parents are in (relatively) good health. Hopefully, the future will have much brighter things in store for you all, but discussing possibilities could make a potentially hard time a bit less hard.

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