How to Have That Tough Conversation With Your Aging Parents

Tough Conversation With Your Aging Parents? As we get older our parents get older as well. You don’t think about it much until the time comes around when you are forced to have that tough conversation. What happens when my parents aren’t able to take care of themselves? 

How to Have That Tough Conversation With Your Aging Parents

This is very difficult to talk about or think about for both you and your parents. The ones who have cared for you your whole life now need you to take care of them. It’s a surreal feeling and can be emotional for some. 

How to Have That Tough Conversation With Your Aging Parents

You essentially reverse the roles and take on the responsibility of supporting them, worrying about them and caring for them. Most of the time families don’t talk about this part of their lives but this leads to all kinds of stress and miscommunication. 

It’s important to talk about this with your parents. You need to touch on topics such as finances, medical care, and estate planning. 

Do they have a will set up? Are their finances in order for emergency care? What are their final wishes? 

It’s important to have this convo SOONER rather than LATER no matter how much they fight you on it. 

The best time to start the conversation is now

The best time to start the conversation is now

Once your parents start aging into the years of 55+ they most likely start thinking about a will and what to do when that time comes for assistance. It’s not fun but we all have to face that topic eventually. 

Many parents will talk about this once they start having children in case something happens unexpectedly. They have the reassurance that their children are set up years ahead of time. 

Your parents may be handling these topics as they age but more than likely they aren’t talking to their children about it. It’s a difficult topic to talk about and many families don’t want to speak of it because it’s “too soon”. 

The reality is that it is never too soon. You never know how life will end up and it’s important to start that conversation as soon as possible.

Always make sure your parents know how much you love them before it’s too late!

Start the conversation with a question

Start the conversation with a question

When approaching this situation you want to make sure you don’t offend your parents. You want to let them know that you care about their well-being and you want to be there for them. You aren’t trying to hurt their feelings, you want to make sure you are prepared to care for them if anything may happen. 

Come prepared, and do your research on the topic of caring for aging parents. You can find some good questions and topics to touch on. This will make it easier on you and you will feel more confident and less overwhelmed. There is a lot of important information to remember when talking about this topic. Having questions prepared will make the conversation smoother for all of you.

Start the conversation off with non-threatening questions. These can be questions like:

  • How is the car treating you? Have you had any issues driving it?
  • The house is looking great, how much maintenance is needed for this size home?

Start it off with these conversational questions and easily transition into the questions you came there for. They may get emotional and upset throughout the conversation but this is normal. This isn’t an easy topic. 

Are They Prepared?

Are They Prepared?

It’s hard to think that one day your parents won’t be able to care for themselves from day to day. Things like driving a vehicle, walking up the stairs and cooking dinner become a struggle for them.

You need to be sure they are prepared for this time. Find out who they have named as an emergency contact, doctor, or lawyer. Ask if they have a medical plan of action.  If possible, set up in advance any medical appointments they need so that everything is taken care of without stress. 

Work together on a plan of action for when the time comes. This could include setting up power of attorney and wills. It can get costly for you or for them if they don’t get the necessary care needed at the right time. You can come across scams, high insurance bills or accidents. 

Studies have shown that many aging individuals have cognitive impairment when they age and this causes damaging financial decisions. They stop paying their bills, stop paying their taxes and make poor financial decisions. 

This is a dangerous situation and things like this need to be planned out ahead of time. 

Be Sympathetic and Patient With Them

Be Sympathetic and Patient With Them 

Remember that this might not go smoothly at first – but it will get easier! Be patient with them and don’t give up. It may take some time for your parents’ perspective to change on these topics but remind them that this is for their safety. You only want to help. 

Be kind and understanding while still keeping things clear and direct. Don’t forget to ask questions about what else your parents are worried about or uncomfortable with. 

Offer more compliments and resolutions rather than stating outright that eventually they will need to go to a home. Set the tone for the conversation in a positive tone rather than a negative and accusatory tone. You can get a pretty good feel on how your parents are feeling about certain topics and questions by their body language. 

If they seem anxious, fidgety or get silent you should probably pull back a bit and focus on a different area. 

Finally, keep in mind that your parents may feel more comfortable talking face-to-face than over the phone or through email; consider going to your parents home next time you’re able.

Be Sympathetic and Patient With Them

In Conclusion

Remember that you may not be able to have the entire conversation at once. It may take a few conversations with your parents over dinner to gather all of the information you need to feel prepared. 

If you have siblings or close relatives, ask them to help you address this conversation. The more support you have the better. This also shows your parents that they have people who love them and want the best for them. Be patient, be understanding and support them no matter what. 

The Blessings of Alzheimer’s: to Heal Broken Hearts

The Blessings of Alzheimer’s to Heal Broken Hearts? Who would think that there were any blessings with Alzheimer’s, right? Today I spent some time at my mom’s house, helping sort out closets. She was one of many children from a poor family and didn’t have much growing up.

dealing with alzheimers
Mom never passed up a great sale on clothing… so many things still had price tags on them.

You could say that she overcompensated as an adult and has more clothes than anyone I know. Today? I emptied two of her six closets and bagged up 14 bags of assorted clothes and plastic hangers, most items still had price tags on them, all items were several sizes too large for her.

The Blessings of Alzheimer’s: to Heal Broken Hearts

There is more to Alzheimer’s than just losing your memory. Your body shrinks, aggression increases, agitation occurs, difficulty with self-care develops, you have the meaningless repetition of your own words, your personality changes, and you have a general lack of restraint.

A lot of this was evident today with Mom. She would get angry that I bagged up certain items of clothes, even though they were four sizes too large. She remembered loving to wear a certain top or dress, and where she wore it but had a hard time understanding that it was no longer something that fit her. When I filled up two bags with plastic hangers that were now empty? She yelled at me.

Soon, the agitation set in and she started walking around and digging through drawers. She dug through the secretary’s desk of hers and found fifty-year-old love letters that my dad had written to her before going off to Vietnam.

Even though she divorced him 40 years ago, she saved the letters he had written to her.

She smiled as she read them aloud.

She was able to transport herself back to those days of young love, and remember things like how he had proposed to her ten times before she finally said “yes”.

She forgot about the nasty divorce that happened after their tenth year of marriage when he was cheating on her. She was miserable. She was a newly divorced mother of two who didn’t even have a driver’s license.

She forgot about the arguments that occurred over medical decisions for their shared son and fighting with the schools over his disabilities. She didn’t remember trying to take her own life when I came home early from school and found and stopped her…

She forgot about all of those things and would go on and on about how he loved her, and the special things he would do for her. The letters he wrote her from Vietnam, how he researched the Catholic Church and compared it to his own faith upbringing. How he thought he might not be a great father as he was too much of an “Alpha Male” to be able to do right by kids… and I could go on.

I used to be so angry with my dad and blamed him for so much of what went wrong. After all, he was the one who brought other adults into their marriage. Today?

I took peace in the fact that she didn’t remember any of the bad, but only the good. She had happy memories today. She smiled and laughed today. I hope that is how this journey ends for her: with smiles and laughter.

Mom, with her current husband, who has been amazing through all of this

I cried when driving home.

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What Questions To Ask Aging Parents

There comes a time in life when we as children need to have “that talk” with our parents and hope to get the best response that will help them. So many times, illnesses strike and in the worse way too, so they end up tipping out earlier than usual. As they get older, are you aware of the relevant legal documentation you need to have in place should anything happen? Also, how are their future medical plans – will everything be ok in case an emergency strikes? There are a lot of questions to Ask Aging Parents.

questions to Ask Aging Parents article cover picture

Well, either way, there are some questions you may need to ask your parents while they are still able to communicate effectively.

Top Ten Questions To Ask Aging Parents 

After all, memory loss illnesses like Alzheimer’s are a terrible thing and most times come on unexpectedly so while you can, here are some questions to ask your parents as they get older…

1. Do You Have a Durable Power of Attorney?

With a power of attorney, they permit someone to trust who will take care of all their affairs should anything happen to them. Every so often, when they get old, they become incapacitated and cannot make stable decisions on their own.

A power of attorney does not have to apply to one person as they can designate someone to look after their health decisions and one to look after their financial decisions (health and financial proxies, respectively). Also, one person may do both.

2. What are Your End-of-Life Wishes?

When looking at questions to Ask Aging Parents, this is important. Life is unpredictable, and you can never tell what will happen down the line as one gets older.

It is best to find out from them what they would desire in the future as it relates to their health choices. For instance, you can ask them their choice of feeding should they be unable to feed themselves (feeding tube, ventilator, etc.).

Also, should they experience a terminal condition like a coma or heart failure, would they want to be placed on life support or should we “pull the plug”? Whatever their decision, the health care proxy should be aware of it.

3. Do You Have a Will or Living Trust?

What happens to their money and possessions after they die should be their decision to make. A will or living trust will help to organize their belongings as well as who will get what and how much.

A lot of older adults, though, prefer to put their life earnings in trust and designate one or more persons to take charge in case they become incapacitated.

4. Do You Have Long-Term Care Insurance or Another Plan in Case Long-Term Care is Required?

Assisted living can be rather expensive, as the national average cost can be up to and over $3100. If not careful, a senior’s life savings can be gone in the blink of an eye, so having a long-term health care system in place will be a good option.

If they do have a long-term care plan in place, it is recommended you get a copy of the policy to read and ensure you fully understand it. Make a few calls to the insurer if you are unclear about anything.

5. Are All Your Documents Current and Updated?

You need to ensure all the documents mentioned above are up-to-date and have all the current information. Check to ensure your parents understand everything with regards to any possible changes.

What do you talk about with aging parents?

6. Where Can I Find These Documents If I Ever Need Them?

You wouldn’t think about this question unless your parent had a sudden stroke and could no longer talk. It can be a hard thing to talk about but it is one of those important questions to Ask Aging Parents.

Our parents sure know how to put stuff up and then not being able to find them in the case of an emergency. As such, it may not be the best decision to let your parents keep them if you are not able to find them on your own.

Should they have a safe or security box at home, this may be an ideal place to keep them and a trusted family member having access. If they are in a fire-safe, a confidant is needed to share the code with the parent.

7. Do You Have a Financial Advisor?

Finance and health are two of the most critical aspects of their life, and the best interest is needed for their well-being. At this stage, you need to find out if they have a financial advisor who is giving them advice, and if such, can they be trusted?

Getting this information will help you to know if your parents’ advisor is of reputable standing and you will also know who to reach in case of an emergency.

8. If You Can No Longer Take Care of Yourself, How Would You Prefer To Live?

Their plans are the gateway to making them live a healthy and happy life in their last years. You want to ensure you have the little chat with them before time draws in too close. You want to ensure you get your parents to make plans soon enough in their life, so at least basic strategies can be put in place.

When they reach the stage where they can no longer live by themselves, you want to give them the preference of choosing their future living options. Would they prefer to be placed in an assisted care center?

Or, do they want to have live-in help and a nurse? Also, you can suggest to them living with you and see what their response will be. Be mindful that future health care plans may be expensive, so the earlier the talk, the better arrangements can be put in place.

9. Do You Have Regular Medical Check-ups?

Health complications can result in your parents having to visit different types of specialists in addition to their primary healthcare provider. Should your parents become sick or hospitalized, health records from one or more of these doctors will be critical to treating and taking care of them.

You will want to get contact details for these physicians in case of an emergency. On the flip side, some parents prefer to use home remedies from TV or radio doctors so you may want to be aware of that too.

10. Do You Understand the Need for Your Prescribed Medications?

This is huge on the list of questions to Ask Aging Parents. When your parents reach a certain age, they may end up taking a high quantity of prescribed medications.

Getting them to discuss this will help you to understand what they are taking and what it is for, as well as if they can handle them on their own. Knowing their medication schedule and their doctor’s contact will help should a medical crisis arise.

You want to ensure your parents are in the best shape and position when they reach the stage they can no longer manage on their own. It is now your responsibility to help them get organized, as we all know…life is unpredictable.  

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10 Great Books On Aging Parents

Great Books On Aging Parents? Whoever said it was easy to care for your elderly parents may never have experienced the real deal when it comes to their demand and overall – living! They can either prove to be difficult, be restrained, segregate themselves, or cooperate and let life takes its course.

Either way, you will need help as a child who is taking care of your elderly parent. As such, those who have dealt with it or are dealing with it have put their feelings into words to help guide you and let you know what is happening.

10 Great Books on Aging Parents

Here are a few books you can consider reading through to help you along the way…

How to Care for Aging Parents

This book will help you get all the answers you need to questions you wished you didn’t have to ask. How to Care for Aging Parents is a resourceful material prepared by Family Caregiver Alliance and is a strong source of information, support, and stability.

It is regarded as a compassionate and comprehensive caregiver’s bible that guides you through the changes to be expected, the adjustments you must make, how to avoid being “a parent to your parent,” as well as how to deal with any potential difficult issue or crisis that may arise. If you have the time for only one of the Great Books On Aging Parents, this would be it.

Reading this book will guide you on how to cope with chronic issues such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other memory loss illnesses. They will not easily adjust to you (even if they lived with you), and this book provide a guide on how to work through this.

Coping with Your Difficult Older Parent

If you have to deal with a parent who always blamed you, doesn’t want to be alone, is obsessed with sickness, or finds pleasure in pulling your legs the wrong way, then you need this book. Of course, it is stressful to deal with an aging parent who does not find it easy to adjust to life because of the crisis health or other conditions may bring.

You can aid in helping them to transition from one stage of life to another and dealing with anger, guilt, frustration, and blame. This book is seen as a “common-sense guide” from a team of professionals who have had firsthand experience in dealing with people who go through this condition. Reading this book also helps you to:

  • Have the talk with your parents about not being able to live with you
  • Handle negativity from your parents
  • Deal with a parent who is impaired from one condition or the other
  • Decide the best options for living when your parents can no longer live alone.  

A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents–and Ourselves

When you are thrown in the position of taking up an instance caregiver role, you will understand how difficult and stressful it can be to take care of your aging parent(s).

Writer Jane Gross was put in a similar situation and is the ultimate reason which prompted her to write her book, A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents and Ourselves. The book tackles issues such as:

  • Dealing with their health conditions and which medical providers may be the best.
  • The truth about assisted living and how to handle hard situations.
  • Family medicines and therapeutic aids for selected health conditions.

Tips for Helping Your Aging Parents: (without losing your mind)

When looking for Great Books On Aging Parents, it is because you realize Caring for your aging parents is a job all by itself, so if you have a full-time job while doing this…it is inevitable for you to become overwhelmed. In the book Tips for Helping Your Aging Parents: (without losing your mind), the writer made it straightforward what it is like to live and deal with them. The book guides you on how to:

  • Deal with their medication
  • Create a safe environment to protect them from hurting themselves
  • Not become overwhelmed while caring for them
  • Deal with a crisis should one arise
  • Have critical discussions with your parents
  • Deal with parents who refuse getting paid assisted help at home.  

Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging

If you dealt with caring for an aging parent or you are going through it, this book will be perfect for giving you the solace you need to keep going. It can be a challenge to care for them, especially if you don’t understand the needs and conditions that come with being old.

This amazing book, Holding the Net, provides a full practical guide on how to prepare yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally to deal with health decisions, rehab, living arrangements, and so much more. It encourages you and advises from experts on how to handle and manage every situation.

Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents

This book is designed to give the best advice to caregivers and potential caregivers who are faced with the reality of caring for their elderly family. It guides you on how to care for your loved one amidst the challenging pressure you are facing. There is valuable information on critical topics you will need to guide to guide you along the way.

The Caregiving Season: Finding Grace to Honor Your Aging Parents

Caring for your elderly parents is stressful, hard, and challenging, and it is a season of your life that will never be normal and will forever change your life. The Caregiving Season: Finding Grace to Honor Your Aging Parents details every practical advice you will need to cope and handle the situation at hand.

Dementia or Alzheimer’s?: A Daughter’s Guide to Home Care from the Early Signs and Onset of Dementia through the Various Alzheimer Stages

While there are many suggestions and references for others to use, the book never falls into a dull recounting of lists of books or items to pursue. Instead, as Ms. Gail recounts her memories, she shares the helpful things she found that aided her mother during what can be a difficult time for everyone.

This loving memoir is a touching reminder to all of us that even though it can be painful watching a loved one go through this difficult time, there are rewards in helping them in whatever way we are able.

Children of the Aging Self-Absorbed: A Guide to Coping with Difficult, Narcissistic Parents and Grandparents

This book provides you with awareness on how to deal with your parent’s self-absorbed behaviors and attitudes as they get older. It shows you how to develop strategies in dealing with your parents based on the current situations you face while caring for them. Also, it shows you how to set limits with your parents for you to remain focus and sane during the process.

30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents (Gifts of Hope)

30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents (Gifts of Hope) gives you a chance to live and maintain stability while you care for your elderly parents. It has a spiritual guide to it in terms of caring for your parents in a way that is pleasing to God and at least shows honor to them amidst the possible stress they are causing. You will maintain dignity and sanity with the guidelines presented in this book, and, of course, they are easy to implement.

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