Talking with your Mom or Dad in Chapel Hill about Home Care, Finances, Wills, End of Life Issues, etc.

June 25, 2013

In past posts we shared some thoughts on how to initiate “that talk” with your loved one.   Here are some additional considerations once you have broached the topic.   If you are ready to have that “talk” with an elderly loved one, you should:

  • Leave them with a list of questions or concerns they can think about after the initial conversation.
  • Expect them to show some initial resistance. The first time the subject of such a talk is broached they may choose to avoid it. If so, try again at a later date. If it continues, however, act firmly (e.g. “Dad, we need to discuss this now.”)
  • Hold a family meeting to develop a mutually agreeable plan, making sure your parents are given a sense of involvement and control over their lives.
  • Explore community resources that can help an elderly person remain independent, including home care, meal delivery or transportation.
  • Ask your parents for their own thoughts regarding their current needs and concerns and their worries about the future.
  • Keep in mind that nearly all seniors prefer to stay in their own homes.  This makes home care one option to be seriously considered.  As a son or daughter, you may prefer the peace of mind you get from the 24/7 care and supervision provided by an assisted living facility, but it may come at the price of your parent’s sense of independence.
  • Keep it positive. Avoid role reversal, where you become the parents. Treat them as equals. Even if they make what you consider an unwise choice, it doesn’t necessarily mean the issue is a closed one or the decision final. Each time the topic is revisited, they will become less defensive and so are likely to come around to the best decision for them.
  • Step back and evaluate. This might include suggesting that your parents talk with a third party — e.g. an estate planner, attorney or financial expert — if you think they could use some expert advice.
  • Even when you have all the facts, it may help both parties to hear them from an expert, such as geriatric care manager.  Sometimes, it not the message, but the messenger.  It may be hard for Mom or Dad to accept the fact that they need home care of they are hearing it just from their son or daughter.

Physicians and geriatric social workers point to danger signs that indicate an elderly person needs extra help or an immediate change in their living arrangement.  Any such change in personality must be noted.  Yet, no major lifestyle changes should be made without discussions

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