Have you talked to Your Parents about Their Future?

Have you talked to Your Parents about Their Future? by Kathleen Bordelon{Read in 3:30 minutes}  It’s never too early to talk with your folks about their vision for their future. Start the conversation, and keep it going over time. Here are a few tips that may help get you started.

Let Them be Part of the Decision Making

Saying, “Well, this is what we think is best for you,” generally causes conflict. Unless there is a significant health or cognitive challenge, you’re likely to get a lot of resistance and resentment. Put yourself in their shoes and think how you would feel if someone made unilateral decisions about your life.

Include the Whole Family

It’s important to include your siblings and other family members in a planning conversation. Starting early allows you to gradually introduce ideas and explore options with siblings and your parents. It is a good idea to “agree to disagree” beforehand, because it’s not likely everyone will be in agreement on all the issues. 

Empathy — Take a Walk in Their Shoes

The idea of moving mom or dad closer to you may be more convenient for you, but if you look at it through their eyes, they may feel they are losing life-long connections with friends at church or synagogue; neighbors; the check-out lady at the grocery store; or the bank teller they’ve been chatting with for years.

These community connections are part of the fabric of their lives. Moving to a place where they don’t know anyone can be very disorienting.

Don’t talk to Them Like Children 

Our parents have a lot of life experience! They may have strong opinions — I used to say that my mother was “fiercely independent” (not stubborn). Loss of capacity often accompanies chronic illness such as a heart condition, or COPD. They might suffer from depression because of their loss of capacity. 

Advanced Directives

As part of these conversations, it is important to find out where your parents stand with regard to advanced directives.  Have they thought at all about this?

  • Do they have a will and/or a living will?
  • Do they have a Health Care Proxy? 
  • Do they have a File of Life with healthcare information readily available in case of an emergency? 
  • Should you have a Power of Attorney?

While this may feel uncomfortable to talk about, approaching it from a position of putting your parents in control can be incredibly comforting for them.

Money

Another important aspect of helping your parents with planning is to talk about financial issues. Long-term care is expensive. What are your options and what is the optimal living situation for your parents? . 

Every family is different, but having a very open-ended conversation early on will go a long way towards getting important decisions made, ensuring that your parents can anticipate a long, healthy and secure future.

Kathleen Bordelon

Kathleen Bordelon

Executive Director

Kbordelon@silversource.org

203.324.6584 x 301

 

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