It's not easy watching our parents get older. For many of us, their aging means more responsibilities as they need to rely on us for care and other help. But it also means facing declining health, long-term care needs, and eventually their passing. Unfortunately, this is not a pleasant process, either for the children and their parents.
The good news is that with preparation and communication, the transitions in this phase of life can be much smoother. The trick, though, is opening those lines of communication and having some tough conversations. Here are some of our best tried and true tips for making doing just that.
Talk early and often
The time to talk about long-term care, assisted living, advance care planning, and other wishes is NOT when that issue is urgent. Though it can seem out of place to ask these questions years before they matter, there's no such thing as too early. Make it a point to have a series of conversations over time. Things will change—health, family, living situations. But if you've set a framework and baseline for the conversations, it's easier to pick up where you left off than to start from scratch.
Listen to understand
When you start these conversations early, you have the benefit of time. This gives both you and your folks a chance to really listen and understand each other. When you don't have to make a decision RIGHT NOW you take the pressure off both sides, especially if there's a disagreement. Instead of life or death (sometimes literally), you can each listen, understand, and work towards solutions and paths that are agreeable to everyone.
Additionally, when you listen and understand their biggest concerns when the time comes to make decisions, you'll know what matters most to them. This can make it easier not only to choose the right options, but you also have the ability to previous conversations.
Whether it's a senior living advisor, an estate planning attorney, or a trusted clergy member, there are lots of options for getting help with these conversations. Maybe your parents won't believe you or need another opinion. Maybe you just feel overwhelmed and unable to moderate or instigate a tough conversation. You don't have to do it alone! Reach out and find an expert or mediator of some kind to help you through it.
These conversations can be difficult for everyone, but if you start early and work toward a common understanding, you can help them make plans for their future that will give them (and you) peace of mind moving forward. We've helped many families over the years come together and make estate plans. Let us guide you through the process, we'd love to work with you. Give us a call today!