Over time many adults find themselves worrying about their aging parents and their ability to adequately care for themselves. It’s not uncommon for adult children to feel as if the roles have been reversed, as they are acting more like parents and their parents are becoming more dependent.
It is natural for people to refuse help, especially older adults who don’t want to admit they may need help with day to day living. In fact, one study found that more than three out of four adult children think their parents are stubborn when it comes to taking their advice about getting assistance for their daily living.
Long-term care can be a difficult subject to bring up, but many older adults can benefit from this type of assistance and it’s always best to have this discussion before your loved one’s condition worsens. Keep in mind that many of life’s most difficult topics of discussion happen to also be some of the most important ones; so while it may not be an enjoyable conversation, it’s without a doubt a necessary one.
Here are some tips to help make this conversation about the future as smooth and constructive as possible for both you and your aging parent.
- Be straightforward. Try not to beat around the bush; be open and tell them you’d like to discuss the various options for their future. Before jumping right into it, ask them if they feel open to discussing these matters at this time or if they’d prefer to have this talk later/somewhere else.
- Ask about their needs and wants for the future. What are their hopes and fears for the future? Do they have any particular demands in terms of where they’d like to live or how they’d (eventually) like to be memorialized? Asking these types of questions will show your loved one that you truly care about their needs, wants and what’s best for them, and will ensure you fully understand their wishes and concerns when the time to take action finally presents itself.
- Don’t make assumptions and don’t force your opinions. You may think you know what your mom or dad has in mind for their future, but you could be very wrong. Try your best not to assume what they want or how they’ll react to this conversation. Phrase any and all of your concerns as questions, rather than telling them what you think is best for them. For example, instead of saying “You clearly need some extra assistance keeping the house clean and organized,” say “(Mom or dad), would you like an extra hand with housework?”
- Honestly express your love, support and concern. Though initiating this conversation can be tough, it’s important not to sugarcoat the reasons you’re voicing your concerns in the first place. Tell him or her how much you love and care about them, and be straightforward about the facts. For example, if you’ve begun to worry about their ability to transport themselves from point A to B safely, say “I’ve noticed your reactions when driving have slowed down a little bit and it worries me. There are local professionals that would be happy to assist you with running errands and other daily responsibilities … is this something you’d find helpful or be willing to try?”
- Most importantly, listen carefully. After asking them to open up about their wants, needs and fears regarding what lies ahead, the most important thing you can do is be an active, attentive listener. Not only will it help them feel validated and at ease after making themselves so vulnerable, it will ensure you truly understand their wishes and are prepared to carry out their demands accordingly.
Why It’s Important to Have This Conversation Now Rather Than Later
Too often families are put in the situation where they never had these discussions and some event – whether it’s a fall or your parent getting lost and not being able to find their way home – forces everyone into a rush to find a solution without really taking into account what’s going to be best for your loved one.
Unless their condition has advanced to the point that you have power of attorney, your parents are the ones who will make the final decision. Unfortunately, the best and sometimes only thing you can do is respect their choice. Treat them with the respect you would want to be treated with, and accept their choice while providing your reasoning and suggestions.
Long-Term Care in Atlanta
A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab provides long-term care as well as senior rehab services in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Our long-term care services can include:
- Restroom Assistance
- Medication Assistance
- Meal Preparation and Cleanup
We are also proud to offer:
- Short-Term Recovery
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech Therapy
- Stroke Rehabilitation
- And Much More
Contact A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab today to learn more about our services and how to talk to your parents about getting the compassionate assistance they deserve.