Speaking about care for the first time with aging parents can be one of the most difficult things for adult children to confront. There are many confusing emotions that come along with caring for an aging parent. Often, your aging loved one will want to mask their pain and troubles from you until they physically cannot anymore. For this reason, you need to take the initiative in having a conversation with your loved one about aging.
Know what to say to your aging parents
Approaching your aging parents about their plans for the future can be intimidating. The best way to find strength is to pre-plan. Know what your objectives are. We recommend using several conversations to find the answer to the following questions:
- Do you want to remain at home as you age?
- What would you like to be done in case you can no longer make decisions for yourself?
- How comfortable are you driving yourself?
- What are your goals as you continue to age?
- What are things you still want to do as you age?
- Can you describe your ideal life in your 70s? 80s? 90s? 100s?
- Where do you want to live if your spouse dies?
- What do you want your legacy to be?
- What are you financial plans?
Of course if there are additional questions you have, feel free to ask them. If you set the conversation to answer these questions as opposed to nervously trying to find the right words, you will feel much more secure.
Set the right mood
Set the mood for this talk. Make sure your aging parents are comfortable. Ease into it after a pleasant day with them to set a good mood. If you sense that your aging loved one is in a bad mood for some reason, do not proceed to talk with them about senior care planning. Make the environment relaxed and casual. What you and your loved one consider a relaxing environment is personal. If you are strapped for ideas, simply turn the television on in the background, make a couple of cups of tea, sit down and casually begin the conversation. If you approach it as the big, scary beast you feel that it is, your loved one will sense that and become defensive.
Take your time
Aging and declining in health can be morbid topics. Because of this, you will confront elements of grieving when approaching conversations about care. Your aging loved one might become angry with you or they might be in denial of any issues at all. While these can be roadblocks to productive conversation, be empathetic. These defense mechanisms will shrink over time. That being said, it is incredibly emotionally draining and counterproductive to attempt to have this conversation in one session. Do not attempt to meet all of your talking points at once. In order to give yourself and your aging loved one appropriate time to reflect, plan several sessions to have a discussion. These discussions should not last longer than 45 minutes.
Be direct with your aging parents
If you attempt to have a conversation about aging with your loved one and they continue to be evasive be direct. It is not an easy conversation to have, but it is important. If you ignore the issues that come with aging until a crisis happens, your loved one will have less choice regarding what actions are taken. Make sure to share that with them. The conversation is not meant to hurt or insult them, it is to plan so that they can continue to enjoy the life they want.
Begin this discussion early.
The later you wait to have discussions about aging, the fewer options will be available to you. There are some matters of business that can be addressed before your parents turn 70, for example choosing to invest in a long term care policy. We suggest that you start monitoring your loved one’s health and approaching discussions about aging once your parent turns 75. While they may be in perfect health at 75, that might not always be the case. The more time you and your loved one have to plan, the more options will be available to you if a crisis does happen.
We hope you can help your loved one age successfully.
Preparing for your loved one to age is not easy, but you’re on the right track just by doing your research. Take a look at our free worksheet that can help you assess your aging loved one’s needs.
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