As your parents get older, the responsibility for their care will typically fall to you and your siblings if you have some. It might be small things to start with, like heading to the supermarket for them or making sure that their medication is in the right place.
Over time the care that they need will increase, and there are a lot of big decisions that need to be made.
For many, it is the case that they don’t want to or aren’t ready for those kinds of discussions. But they still have to happen. Here are a couple of ways to tackle big topics like choosing a senior living center, funeral wishes, power of attorney, etc.
Earlier the better
The earlier you start having these conversations, the easier you will be able to deal with things when the time comes. It’s not only for you to understand what your parents want – but it also means they can have time to think about things. They might change their minds about certain things, or they can firmly settle on a couple of things.
Talking about things early can also help people set some big emotions aside.
Where possible, there should be multiple people who can help. Other family members are usually the first port of call for help, but if you have a small family – or an estranged one that can be tough. If your parents agree to it, you can call in extra support for them.
It could be someone running errands for them, cleaning the home, or personal care. You’ll know what they need, and can arrange it for them.
As things progress, you might find that your parents become stubborn. Reducing carers, refusing specific treatments, and so on. If they can make decisions for themselves, it can be better to support them.
Overriding them often can make them feel like they aren’t being considered in their lives. Instead of telling them what to do, talk to them about the options and why you think one is better than the other.
Ask them what they want, and see how best you can make that happen. It might not always be easy and go against what you think is best, but the truth is it is not always about you.
For most of us, watching our parents age is tough – and we seem to forget that one day we will be in the same position. One of the most effective and gentle things you can do is to put yourself in their place.
How would you feel? As we age, loss begins to define much of what we do—loss of friends and family, loss of some faculties and movement, loss of control. Falling behind when technology moves forward can also be a big one.
Try to understand how they are likely to feel about things and how you would feel too.
Take the time to deal with these things gently so you both get a better experience through the transitional periods. Here are some tips for planning one of the biggest things: Tips For End Of Life Planning.