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?
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
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
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?
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
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.
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.