Starting the ConversationDecision Tools & Downloads | September 17, 2015
Talking with Aging Parents
If you’ve observed a decline in your elderly parent’s health or mental state, or have started to notice everyday tasks are becoming more difficult, it’s time to consider having the end of life conversation. While it can be challenging to start talking with aging parents about their futures, discussing the care they need as well as the related financial and legal matters that could arise is a vital step to take before a real crisis may occur.
Many aging adults wish to remain living independently in their own homes for as long as possible, and they can be stubborn when it comes to admitting that someday their needs may change- if they haven’t already. Knowing how to talk to elderly parents and treating them with the respect they deserve will make the end of life conversation easier for everyone involved.
How to Talk with Parents about Assisted Living and Other Options
When you decide it’s time to talk with your parents about assisted living or other senior living options, it’s important to be prepared. Start by gathering your thoughts, whether that means putting ideas down on paper or in a letter, or even having a practice conversation with different family members. Keep a list of topics you’d like to discuss to help you stay focused on and to overcome any objections your loved one may have. Having a conversation about end of life while your aging parents are still in good health will allow them a chance to be a part of the decision-making process.
If you aren’t sure how to initiate the end of life conversation, here are just a few ways to get it started and keep it going over time:
- Invite your loved one to check out a senior assisted living community with you. Many senior communities will offer a complementary meal or allow your parent to take part in some social events to help them get a feel for the environment and talk to current residents.
- Take your loved one out to dinner and discuss how their own parents were cared for through their elderly years. Get them talking about what they would have done differently, which can turn the conversation to your concerns for your loved one’s future. Ask them what their own care preferences are.
- Visit your loved one’s home and take note if you are constantly helping out with household tasks, like mowing the lawn or taking laundry down to the basement for them. Stop by at different times throughout the day so you can get a good idea of how much assistance they might really need. Ask them if keeping up the house and yard is something they enjoy doing and think they can continue to manage on their own.
Today’s seniors have a wide variety of living options available to them. If they are healthy and active, independent living could be a great option. For those who need more help with daily living tasks, assisted living could provide the care they require, while allowing them to maintain a level of independence. Whatever you end up deciding with them just remember that every senior is different, and the best senior living and end of life options will depend on their current and future healthcare needs.