Family Conversations About Aging Gracefully
Keys to success
- Respect the fact that elders want to stay in their homes and maintain their sense of independence as long as possible.
- It’s essential for every member of the family to be clear about roles and responsibilities as you make the transition to eldercare.
- Make sure your family has a plan in place before sitting down with an elderly parent or parents.
As many of you are aware, eldercare has become a huge issue over the past decade, so we’re going to devote the next several posts in this blog to that topic. Also, we’re hosting an eldercare seminar in May that you should attend if you have (or expect to have) responsibility for an elderly parent, relative or good friend.
Today, let’s look at the big picture. About 10 years ago, a good friend of mine, Dan, got a surprise call at work from a police department located 30 miles away. The police said: “We think we have someone here that you know,” and then Dan heard his father on the line explaining, “Son, I don’t know where I am, I don’t know how I got here and I don’t know how to get back home or where I live.”
Dan was shocked. He had just seen his dad the week before. Everything seemed fine, even though his dad was in the advanced stages of dementia. Dan had lost his mother a few years earlier and became depressed over his father’s condition. He started having suicidal thoughts. Dad’s mental capacity kept deteriorating over time and eventually he passed away. Don’t let this happen to you.
Crisis situation or preventive mode?
No one wants to receive a phone call like Dan did. The calls tend to fall into one of two categories: crisis situation (Dan’s case), or preventive mode. If it’s a crisis, then you have to put a plan in place ASAP. Family members must come together to help out the parent or relative who needs care. If you can take the preventive approach before a crisis hits, you have a series of conversations with the entire family about how you are going to address the eldercare issues you’re about to face as a family unit.
Typically, one family member is designated the lead who will deal directly with the parent or relative in need of care. Then you have a meeting with everyone who is supporting the family. You need to be clear about roles and responsibilities before sitting down with the parents. Remember, most elderly folks want to retain their freedom. They want to continue their daily routines and stay in their homes as long as possible.
Next, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of staying at home versus going to a retirement community. But, it all starts with opening a conversation, getting very clear about the primary caregiver’s responsibilities, and walking through the cognitive and physical issues that arise as we continue to age.
As I mentioned earlier, we have an eldercare seminar coming up in May. Visit the events page of our website coylefinancial.comfor more information.We’d love to have you there. So until next time, enjoy. Gary
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