If you're noticing that your aging parents need help with decision-making and care, you're not alone. Sitting down with your loved ones to discuss health concerns and long-term care options may be a conversation you prefer to avoid, but it's a talk that happens every day in every city in our nation. Of course, your parents don’t want to lose their independence, but their safety and well-being are at stake. Here are some tried and true tips that can help you have a positive and helpful conversation with them.
Don’t Put it Off
The simple truth is that having this conversation now will make things easier for both you and your parents in the future. If you wait until a health crisis forces the issue, the scenario becomes much more complicated. As an ice-breaker, consider starting the conversation by focusing on a friend or relative's illness and recovery. How are they doing? What are the challenges they are facing? By realizing how health issues can impact others, they may recognize the issues they may have to deal with in the not-too-distant future. The most important step is to start the dialogue.
Include Siblings & Close Relatives
You do not have to walk this path alone. Talk to your siblings, aunts, and uncles. Ask their opinions and consider inviting them into the discussion. By discussing the issues and asking for their support, you will have a network of loved ones to encourage and assist you.
Be Upfront About the Purpose of Your Conversation
There is nothing wrong with letting your parents know that you are concerned about them and want to do the right thing for them as they age. This is a conversation that will most likely evolve over an extended period of time. Recognize that, while you may feel strongly about what needs to be done, your parents may disagree. Their wishes should prevail unless there are pressing health or safety concerns.
This conversation can be challenging. Your loved ones may respond more positively if you ask questions and carefully listen to their answers. It is a good idea to use open-ended questions that encourage discussion rather than those that can only be answered with a "yes" or "no." For example, ask them "If you can no longer take care of yourself, have you thought about where you would prefer living?" Try to express your concerns to your parents, rather than telling them what they should do. Give them some time to think about and absorb this life-changing time.
Ask Your Parents to Keep an Open Mind
If your discussions with Mom and Dad do not go as planned, try to assess what might be going wrong. Remember to listen to their wants and needs, trying to incorporate them into the plan as much as possible. Your parents might benefit from talking to a third party – like a geriatric care manager, or another trusted family member or friend.
Recognize Their Need for Independence
Adults have a right to make their own decisions, and your parents may balk at losing their independence. That said, you may need to balance their independence with safety concerns. In all conversations, try not to take away their sense of control over their own lives.
Locate Records and Documentation
It is very important to know where your parents' important documents are. It may not be long before you will need to put your hands on their insurance policies, wills, health care proxies, living wills, trust documents, tax returns, investment, and banking records. You can start this conversation by asking them who you should contact if there is an accident. While it may be difficult to ask directly about these personal matters, waiting to challenge this later will, most likely, prove even more difficult.
Be a Source of Information & Provide A Sense of Security
Your parents may be eligible for government assistance programs; www.benefitscheckup.org is a good source of information. You may find that they are eligible for benefits that will help pay for prescription drugs, health care, utilities, and other essential items or services. Medicare generally does not cover long-term care, and Medicaid pays long-term care expenses only for low-income individuals. Your parents may want to consider long-term care insurance options to cover future expenses.
If your parents are planning to live at home, it is a good idea to identify available community services that provide assistance, such as Meals on Wheels, and Senior Services Centers. You may also want to consider home modifications, such as bathroom rails and entry ramps, to assure as safe an environment as possible.
Consider Respite Care
If you are a primary caregiver, you need to remember to take care of yourself. Respite care provides short-term relief for primary caregivers, giving you the opportunity to take a much-needed vacation. This is also a wonderful opportunity for you to introduce your Mom and Dad to a new quality of life - one where they can meet new friends, enjoy delicious meals in a restaurant atmosphere, and have a wide variety of fun and exciting options for activities and entertainment.
Above All -Treat Mom and Dad With Honesty and Respect
This can be a very difficult time for mom and dad. It is often a time of loss. Good friends and relatives may be gone. Their health may be waning, and the perception that they are losing their independence as well may be too much to bear. Remind them that old age can be a rewarding time, and reassure them that you will be there for them as they age.
At Inspired Living and Superior Residences, we provide an exceptional and welcoming new home for Moms and Dads. Our communities offer a continuum of care, so you don’t have to worry about making a move later on if additional care is needed. We are here to help you navigate this process and offer the expertise that will give you peace of mind. To find out more, find an Inspired community nearby at www.inspiredliving.care.