Many families want to avoid talking about end-of-life matters. This is understandable, as it’s a weighty subject with a variety of emotions attached to it. Parents feel resistant to the idea that they are closer to facing this. Children and other relatives are saddened and worried by what the future holds for their loved one. However, it’s a conversation that can’t be sidestepped. Facing it head on with a frank attitude will help your family come to terms with it sooner.
One of the first and most important items to address is living choices. You want to have clear plans before there’s a crisis. Consider whether your parent needs minimal assistance, or more intense care for issues like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Naturally, most older ones would still like to stay in their homes. But if they struggle with day-to-day activities and household duties, they might wonder how that will be possible. It’s important to assess the reality.
Some questions that you will want to discuss with your parents would be, “What challenges do you face? Is it difficult to drive, walk up and down stairs, or access the bathroom? What’s the plan in an emergency?” It’s completely possible that they can continue to live at home. Mom or Dad might require part-time or full-time care to manage this. Sometimes simple changes or adaptations to the home can also make it feasible.
For those who remain in their home, there’s an abundance of resources that will help. Options include home health aides, housekeeping, meal delivery service, and transportation services. Retirement communities offer many of these services while enabling residents to enjoy independent living.
For some, living alone is no longer possible. Consider whether or not moving in with you is the right choice. It all depends on the circumstances. You might look into senior housing. Cost plays a primary role, so this needs to be factored in. You might not realize how much your parents value your input. Show care and empathy. Ask questions and genuinely listen to their answers. They absolutely need to be involved in the decision-making process if they’re going to be happy with the end result. Don’t rush this decision! Take your time and think wisely.
Writing down a list of their wants and needs is helpful. What features would make them more comfortable? What’s essential to their care? This is valuable even if they continue to live at home or choose to live with family members. You’ll need to consider their financial and work situations, and the adjustments that might need to be made in those areas. Bringing on a part-time aide can maintain balance.
This is a monumental time in both parent’s and children’s lives. Even with a well laid-out plan, nothing’s going to go perfectly. At times, emotions will run high. But through communication, empathy, and understanding, your family can make it through.