The talk about your parent's future care plans is more than just having it with them. There are must have conversations with your spouse, siblings and employer too. Who knew?
My sister and I never talked with our parents about any of this: wills, long-term care plans or especially death. Not sure why it was this way. Maybe it was out of fear of facing reality or did we just assume that they had it all already planned out. We were so unprepared for dealing with Mom's sudden death and then Dad suffering a stroke a year later. Maybe having parents with an ethnic background is part of the problem. To them elder care planning is more right of passage. There is an unspoken understanding on their part when it comes their old age that it will be as it was in their country with their parents and grandparents rather than something that needs to be discussed and planned out. While our parents are assuming this and we-their children are assuming something else, eventually the world's are going to colloid when the day comes for us to care for them. We should have been better prepared and unafraid of talking to them and each other about all of this which is why we created www.AgingParentsMarketplace.com .
When we were kids, there was "the talk" with our parents about the bird-and-the-bees. In middle school, we had to take sex education classes. All of this was to better prepare us for our adulthood. But where was the "talk" with them our about their Elderhood - their future long-term care needs? Why are we delaying or avoiding having this discussion about the day when their health situation changes? What is the plan? Who is going to be the one responsible for helping them pay their bills and manage care when they are not able to? Wait, what- me?
Then what about that talk with our spouse or life partner about becoming the co-caregiver of your parent when mom or dad moves? As we create our life plans with our spouse or life partner – moving in together, raising a family, our future retirement plans, the last thing we are thinking about is our parents.
Then how about those great family gatherings – reunions, holidays, birthdays, graduations, etc with our siblings? We plan for them, “hey what are you bringing to the family picnic”? We enjoy celebrating and spending time with our families and then reminiscing afterwards, but at anytime during the festivities does anyone bring up that they noticed the condition of mom's house, the pile of unpaid bills on the counter or the take out containers in the trash? Time to stop ignoring the signs!
Or how about having a conversation with your employer during the job interview or performance evaluation. “Thank you Mr. Smith for the interview, what is this company’s policy regarding flex time for caregivers? Do you have a flex policy?, or “ Ms. Jones, I have to ask if I can continue working while I am caring for my Mom?”
The point we are trying to make is that there are several different conversations that you should happening in this process and we are here to help you through it. However, what we are not able to do for you is tell you which conversation should come first because everyone’s life and journey is different.
If you have become inspired to start having some of these conversations, here are some of our suggestions on having the Talk with your parents.
·Ask them "Are things in place in case if something happens to one of you?"
Talk about a "friends" situation
Its not going to be easy and don't expect to have everything worked out right away. It takes time and there may be many more conversations. Be mindful of their responses. They may find this Talk overwhelming and may become upset. The goal is to listen and then develop a list of action items for you and your parents to work on.
“This is great Dad, perhaps we can talk about this in the near future.”
“I understand that you are in good health now, but maybe we should come up with a plan for IF things change down the road.
Look at this conversations as a catalyst for the ones that will follow: the ones you may have next with your life partner and siblings. Now that you have some information about your parents future care plan or lack thereof, visit our website to find help and resources to move you into the next phase of the planning process and your role as the Caregiver or Care Manager. Choose one of our Action Plans or become a member of our website to have the tools when you need them along the journey with your Aging Parent or Loved one. You are not alone!