(SD-SP) It is never easy. That moment when you have to accept your parents are aging and need your help. Often, it is the adult children who come to this realization first, causing them to be the ones to initiate difficult conversations involving decisions about their parents’ health, senior living, finances, ability to drive, and many other details for a healthy and enjoyable life. Below are four difficult conversations that adult children are having with their parents and suggestions to help with the communication process.
If you believe your parent is no longer a safe driver and could injure themselves or someone else, you need to talk to them immediately. The last thing you want is to have this conversation after an accident has occurred. Driving is a sign of independence and control, so this will be a big adjustment and might need more than one conversation. Your parents might be more accepting if the request to stop driving came from an expert. Make an appointment to get their health assessed, including their vision checked, and let their doctor provide guidance. Transportation has never been easier and accessible thanks to ridesharing apps. Take time to sit down with your parents and show them how the apps work to help them understand they can still have their independence without having to get behind the wheel!
The time has come (or is quickly approaching) when all the undertakings of your parents being in their own home is too much of a chore. It is time to have the conversation about senior living, a topic that can be extensive, with a large range of options from independent and assisted living to dementia care and skilled nursing and rehabilitation. It is important to communicate to your parents the advances in senior living and show them places like Brookdale, that have many of the same attributes as living at a resort. From enjoying delicious gourmet meals in the dining room to participating in fitness classes, to going to the library to read, or the art studio to make a masterpiece, there are many amenities that are sure to “wow” them. They might just need to see it for themselves! Contact Brookdale to find out what is available in their area.
If you feel like you are playing a game of “telephone” when trying to figure out what happened at your parent’s doctor appointment, it might be time for you to ask to attend appointments with them. Explain to your parents that you want to help eliminate the stress that comes with trying to remember everything as medical talk and terminology can be confusing for anyone, and you can help them navigate if you have all the information firsthand. It is important to take notes for them to refer to after their appointment, which they will likely find very helpful and welcome you to the next appointment!
Sometimes it is hard for aging parents to accept that they need help from their children. This role reversal can be very difficult on them. For their entire life up to this point, they have only known the role as caregiver. This change could ignite some feelings; words might not be kind or welcoming. Feelings may get hurt. Strive to talk with your parents about everything you are doing and explain that you are doing it to make their life better. It is important for them to know that you are on their side, and you truly want to help. Then listen. Allow your parents the time to express themselves and share how they feel. Do not be defensive or feel like you have to respond back. Giving them the opportunity to feel like they are being heard might help your relationship greatly.
This is a challenging time for adult children and aging parents alike. Make sure to navigate all of the changes that come with this new stage of life. Even though the conversations may be difficult, hopefully, the result is a safer, better quality of life for your parents and peace of mind for yourself.