There comes a point in time when you start realizing your parents need a little help. You’ll face challenges that will be life-changing, inspiring, and painful.
For most of us, we don’t really think much about it until the situation presents itself. It’s hard realizing the ones that loved and cared for you suddenly need to be loved and cared for on a new level. While facing it can be difficult at the best of times, being prepared for what’s to come can make each step a little easier. You’ll be facing quite a few things in the months and years to come.
Talking About Tough Issues
Talking to your parents about difficult topics can strain any relationship, especially if you aren’t the “share everything” kind of family. And when the topic involves things that take away their freedom, health issues, or even personal matters such as incontinence, it can be extreme. It’s best to take a head on approach and go into it without allowing it to get personal. Your mother may feel you’re asking loaded questions and fight back with everything she has. It’s best to give these sessions the time they deserve, and put your phones, tablets and other distractions away. If she knows she has your undivided attention, it can help approach the subject in new ways. Realize you might have to have conversations more than once to get to the necessary outcome.
Whether it’s you and mom and dad, or you have a large family where siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews all take part, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of differences of opinions. And when it comes to something as personal as caregiving, you can better believe the opinions can become heated. Not only can disagreements center around your aging parent’s’ needs, but it can also dig up old frustrations and bring them to a new light. If you simply can’t solve a problem on your own, it may be wise to consider a few sessions with a mediator to defuse the tension.
The Car Talk
Having the ability to drive means personal freedom to a lot of people. And when you take that away, you’re taking away self-sufficiency and self-control. It’s often one of the hardest things an adult child will ever have to do. It’s also one of the most important things for you to monitor as you notice your parent’s health changing.
Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol
There’s an adage that says “there are two groups who never have sex: your kids and your parents” but we all know that isn’t true. Chances are your parents are still having sex, whether they’re married or not. Studies show that while we may be reaching teens about the importance of using condoms, those same messages aren’t getting through to the aging population, and as such STDs are skyrocketing among older adults. And research also shows the elderly are relieving some of their stressors with drugs and alcohol. If you’re worried about changes you see in your parents and have health and safety concerns, approach them with facts, support, and without judgment.
This is your time you. You have a job, a spouse, a family, a house, a life. And to add the growing concerns of your parents into it can be a lot more than you can handle at times. Your parents can get demanding, especially when they realize you are at their beck and call. They rely on you. They trust you. But you have a life too. Establishing ground rules from the beginning is important. It’s also important that you establish your “no”. Learn to use it when it’s all too much. Learn to call in help to save your own sanity too.
Many adult children will tell you that talking with their parents about money is sometimes more difficult than talking about sex and intimacy issues. It’s a topic many close up about when approached. But it’s important to hear their wishes and get it on paper before it becomes difficult to do. If they have a will, know where it is. If they don’t, now is the time to set one up. Approach them about getting all of their financial documentation in one place, so everyone knows where it is. You can also discuss end-of-life care and directives so they can have a say in the decisions that are coming, and you can make them knowing you are carrying out their final wishes in a way that they would choose.