When you believe it's time to "have the talk" with a parent or parents about their future needs, it's important for everyone involved to focus on the parents and what is best. Focusing on emotional and physical needs may help prevent decisions that can disrupt family dynamics or be ultimately detrimental to everyone.
It may be helpful to start by asking yourself a few questions about whether the current living arrangement at home has become unsafe or unhealthy.
- Are they eating nutritious food and are they still cooking? Is their refrigerator regularly full of old food?
- Do they get out and socialize and exercise, or are they socially isolated?
- Are there safety hazards in the home like stairs, exposed cords, or area rugs?
- Would either parent want to stay in their current house if one of them passed away?
- What would have to happen in order for them to consider a move to a retirement community?
- Would they benefit from any of the following:
- Three prepared meals each day
- Spending their days among like-minded companions/neighbors
- Meaningful activities and programs
- Maintenance-free lifestyle
- Emergency response system
- Health monitoring or medication monitoring
- A helping hand with daily activities such as bathing or dressing
Answers to these questions can provide a road map for you to follow in helping them reach the decision that a retirement community could offer the best plan for their future. Once that happens, you can begin to talk positively about the transition into a new adventure and prepare them to embrace the idea with great anticipation.
To best support your parents as they age, there are a number of other topics you should discuss with them while they are still healthy and of sound enough mind to have a productive conversation. Two key topics are a must:
Health & Medical Treatment
- Do they have any health concerns that you should know about so you can better support them down the road?
- Would they be willing to give the doctor permission to talk to you in the event you have questions about their well-being?
- Have they considered what kind of medical treatment they would want in the future?
- Who do they want to make medical decisions if they are no longer able to do so?
- Do they have any advanced care planning documents like a Medical Power of Attorney and Directives to Physicians? If so, where are they kept?
- Do they have a written will and if so, where is it stored?
- At what point would they be willing to allow you or someone else to assist them with their financial business?
- Do they have a General Power of Attorney, and if so, where is it kept?
By discussing these things prior to the time an urgent need arises, you and your parents will both be better prepared for what the future brings. Above all, your willingness to take a proactive approach to having "the talk" will bring great peace of mind and ultimately be in the best interests of both you and your aging loved ones.
For information on senior living options offered by Methodist Retirement Communities in Texas, visit mrcaff.org