A great idea for families with aging parents, is to get together for a chat early, instead of waiting until one, or both parents are facing a health or financial crisis. It’s good to know early and while they still have capacity, what they would like to happen.
Although many don’t like to raise the issue, it’s worth asking what your parents’ preferences are in relation to the family home, aged care or home care, while they can still voice them. Running ‘what if’ scenarios can force someone to take stock and have a think about issues they might not otherwise have thought about.
For many, it’s a tricky subject to tackle and certainly, the whole family can feel quite emotional about. But, being prepared to care for your parents as they age can make it a lot less stressful when there’s a change in circumstances, especially as these tend to happen quite quickly. A heath situation can change overnight, quite literally, if they were to have a stroke or a fall or lose capacity.
Facing old age and our own mortality are tough for any of us, and aging is not for the faint-hearted, so there may be resistance from parents or siblings, to confronting issues head on in a formal style of meeting. It’s well worth reminding your family that it’s in everyone’s best interests to get ready, both emotionally and practically and do what’s best for Mum and Dad, even though you hope it’s a long way off, or may not be needed. And if your family aren’t the ‘sit down’ types, how would everyone feel most comfortable discussing the issues?
Some have learned that a box of tissues and lot of patience is needed, as talks can be a hotbed of emotions. And family always seem to know how to best push our buttons! Above all, be ready to listen to what family members have to say. Going in to a meeting with an intention to listen, be open minded and relaxed, with your parents’ best interests at heart, can be a great start.