Senior Care: Starting the Conversation
It’s never easy to start a conversation with our loved ones about how we plan to handle end-of-life issues. As difficult as such a subject may be, it’s better to have a discussion early. Too many families wait until it’s too late to have these conversations, and everyone starts scrambling, arguing or ignoring what their loved one wants because the situation has become urgent.
Keep senior care conversations productive and positive. Write down the things you want to discuss and leave emotion off the table. Talk about how you and your family would want to deal with the situation if your parents, grandparents or other loved ones were sick or in pain.
Once the conversation has been started, you’ll be more comfortable addressing things in the future. You don’t have to keep bringing up senior care, but do discuss senior care options if your loved one’s condition changes.
Here are a few tips for starting the conversation about senior care.
It’s best to include your parent in the conversation so that they can share their wishes. Begin talking about long-term care needs early on so that these preferences are made known to everyone in the family.
Choose a time and place
It’s common for families to throw out these conversations at family get-togethers because everyone is in the same place. This is not always the best way to handle these sensitive conversations, however. Instead, pick a time and place where there won’t be distractions, and everyone can come prepared.
Include key people
Only include those who have a say in what will happen to your loved one. This may include their children, spouse or other close relatives. Not everyone with an opinion needs to be there.
Create a relaxed environment
You are concerned about your parent’s well-being, so there is no need for them to feel threatened. Tell them you want to know what their preferences are so that they can be carried out if possible.
Instead of offering advice or forcing your loved one to make certain decisions, offer the various options that are available to them. For instance, when they can’t live alone anymore, they don’t have to be moved to an assisted living facility. In-home help can be a solution.
Involve third parties
If you feel that your family could use some outside help, bring in a third party, such as a mediator or financial planner. Your parent or siblings may be more open to listening to a third party, who can keep everyone on track.
It's not easy
As you prepare for and have these discussions, remember that many elderly adults want their independence and may resist discussing these issues with their children. Begin early and take baby steps in talking about various end-of-life issues. One approach that many adult children find helpful is to remind their elderly parent how much better it will make the adult child feel if these end-of-life issues are addressed. Many times an elderly parent will do difficult things if they realize it helps their children.
A version of this article has appeared on Family Private Care's website.