“The Talk” With Your Aging Parents

In this series of articles, Mike Campbell, author of When Mom and Dad Need Help, explains what to do when it’s time to talk to your aging parents about the variety of senior care options.

Have you had “The Talk” With Your Aging Parents?

By Mike Campbell

It’s hard to imagine our parents as less than self-sufficient. Sitting down and talking with them about their future long-term care needs is an even more agonizing thought. Let’s face it; most of us would rather bury our heads in the sand than discuss this subject with our parents. When a difficult situation like this arises, I’m reminded of the TV commercial that depicts a man in overalls expressing his displeasure at dealing with a car salesman by bellowing, in a Southern drawl, “I’d rather be pecked to death by a duck!” When it came to approaching my mom about her future senior housing and care needs, this was my sentiment exactly!

It’s time for a reality check, folks. Based on discussions with hundreds of adult children who’ve gone through this ordeal, talking openly with your parents about their needs for long-term care, and planning for the inevitable before it becomes absolutely necessary, is much better than dealing with it on your own later. Helping your parents prepare for their future housing and care needs will go a long way toward eliminating any future guilt. The secret is in getting started. The small amount of pain you experience talking about it now will go a long way toward eliminating the pain and guilt you’ll experience later if you don’t.

You’ve undoubtedly thought: I never want to be a burden to my children when the time comes that I need care. Well, your parents feel exactly the same way. Research has proven that this is so. The time to talk with your parents about their future housing and care needs is now, while they’re in reasonably good physical and mental health. All of your parents’ children should be involved in the discussion. Decisions reached as a group are vitally important because the decision will not only affect your parents, but also each member of the family. Group decisions are more likely to be successful than unilateral decisions. Even if some of your siblings can’t attend a meeting, keep them informed of any decisions made, preferably in writing. It would be unfortunate if one of your siblings were unaware of your parents’ wishes for housing and care, later resulting in a disagreement over what your parents’ wishes really were. Obviously, the final decision is going to reside with your parents as long as they’re mentally capable. If your parents are still capable of being involved in the decision-making, their participation makes the entire process much easier.

You’ve undoubtedly thought: I never want to be a burden to my children when the time comes that I need care.

A wise man once said, “Every battle is won before it’s fought.” This could not be more applicable than with senior housing and care planning. Let me give you an example. Last year, my friend’s mother died suddenly. Her father had developed Alzheimer’s disease about four years ago and was requiring assistance with several activities of daily living. Her mother was caring for, and tending to her husband’s needs from their home of fifty years. When her mother suddenly died, she and her brother could not agree on what type of housing and care would be best for their dad. It was a very unpleasant experience for both her and her brother. The “guilt factor” was something that played on both of their minds. She told me that she wished they could have sat down earlier with their dad before he developed Alzheimer’s disease and discussed what his wishes would have been in this situation. It would’ve made the decision to move him into an Alzheimer’s/dementia care community a much easier one.

Start the learning process about senior care options and other ways to approach your loved ones, call (866) 662-0435  to speak to your local SeniorLiving.Net Care Advisor.

Stay tuned for more of Mike’s suggestions and advice when it comes to talking to your parent about senior care, ways to approach the subject of long term care with your parent and paying for long term care.