My parents are in their early eighties, both with health issues. They don't seem to think that there should be plans in place when they can no longer do for themselves. We live 2000 miles apart, I'm an only child.  They won't consider moving closer to me and I fear that if something happens to either of them, we will be faced with making poorly thought-out arrangements. They won't engage in a serious conversation and I feel they are in denial.

How do others approach their parents? Are there articles on this topic?

 


@LauraLG28 wrote:

My parents are in their early eighties, both with health issues. They don't seem to think that there should be plans in place when they can no longer do for themselves. We live 2000 miles apart, I'm an only child.  They won't consider moving closer to me and I fear that if something happens to either of them, we will be faced with making poorly thought-out arrangements. They won't engage in a serious conversation and I feel they are in denial.

How do others approach their parents? Are there articles on this topic?


This is one of the KEY issues for adult children of aging parents.  My guess is one of the AARP amazing experts will respond with article suggestions. I know that "Prepare to Care" as a guide is TERRIFIC and on this site. Step by step and very thorough. 

 

What I'm guessing is that you are trying to bring up this difficult topic by phone rather than in person since you are 2,000 miles away. I think in person would be much better, but since not too many people are traveling, perhaps zoom or facebook messenger or google hangouts or if they have apple then facetime... Looking and watching their faces and their ability to see your expression will help. And there are ways to frame the discussion. WIth Covid19 there's always the 'would you want to be on a ventilator' issue. But its not a good idea to dive in with that. Oy.

 

It might be helpful to inform yourself about how other elders in the family are planning ahead: is there an uncle or aunt who has done advance directives? Talk to cousins and find out? If one of your parents' sibling has done any of this, it mght help to bring that up. Do they have a pastor they trust? Call up the pastor and say, would you back me up if i start talking to my folks about what they would want done if they became incapacitated? Enlarge your caregiving circle ... so you aren't doing this all solo.

 

Also, doctors talk about 'goals of care' and POLSTs rather than 'living wills'. It might help to talk to their doctor. It's now telehealth time because of COVID and you could probably get a chance to talk to their primary care provider about what she or he recommends in terms of care. For example, for people with Parkinsons Disease, its a good idea to assume that once the person cannot swallow safely, its time for home hospice rather than time for a feeding tube... there are specific thoughts for each illness as to what is ideal end of life care.

 

i hope that's helpful... 

Jane

 

@LauraLG28 Hi Laura! @JaneCares gave you some great suggestions! Just to add a tad bit to that...

 

Here is my short blog post with 4 Tips for Difficult Family Conversations - you'll find also on that page my video on the topic with more tips! (both are quick and I loaded them with practical stuff!)

 

It sounds like you're in that position that so many adult children face - I know it's hard! 

 

One approach that works for some is to couch it as they will be doing something for. YOU by talking about current and future situation and plans. Many parents don't want to "burden" their kids with this stuff or with care, but what they don't understand is that it actually causes MORE stress for the kids when plans aren't in place for all the contingencies that might come up. If you can get them to understad that it is actually MORE of a burden to feel so up in the air about all of this maybe they would make the effort to start the conversations and share their plans with you. 

 

Many people just fear change or are happy where they are and really don't want change. That is understandable. But there are many options along the way that don't necessarily lead to them re-locating - at least not right now. Now is the time to be researching the options. Home-based care. A senior community in their area. Technology to keep you more connected and help you monitor how they are doing....lots of options. 

 

Sometimes legal issues are a good place to start - just making sure advance directives are in place - and as Jane mentioned you can open with "X family member" just got theirs done, or I just got mine done - and stress that any adult should have advance directives in place at any age - sometimes it helps to not make it about age. Here's a good article from my friend and colleague Amanda Singleton about powers of attorney

 

I hope this is helpful - take a look at the blog and video and let me know how else I can help!

 

Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving

 

 

 

You may want to start with very small steps and keep it an on-going, non-confrontation thing.  Perhaps start with a general conversation about what THEY want done when, down the road, they can't get around too well anymore.

 

As mentioned, Advance Directives are very important - our Family Doctor is very pro-active about these - hopefully theirs is too.  Perhaps you can ask if they have discussed this with their doctor.

 

Finances will also play a large role in where they get cared for in the future, ideally you have a general idea of their resources, though that may also be another tricky conversation to start.

 

P.S. My response is based on personal experience and opinion, and is not any kind of professional advice, as some of the others responses may be.

 

Thank you, for your input. It's challenging. They are so often on the defensive when I try so hard to frame my questions in concern for their future... I get, 'Oh don't worry honey'. And yet thy don't, as far as I can see have anything in place.

 

I'll work on opening the conversation, maybe by giving them information about planning and see where it goes. At least it's a start.

 

Laura

 

Thanks, Amy,

 

You make a lot of great points. I find myself in a difficult position. No siblings. Dad has only one much younger sister. Their doctors do not appear to be getting involved in such issues. My parents are sure they have everything under control even though they have nothing in place and rarely listen to any suggestions I give them on health care. It is amazingly frustrating. 

 

Can you suggest any articles that are directed at them for preparing for their future that I can pass on to them? This may be a way to start the conversation.

 

Thanks

Laura

 

Hi Jane, Thank you.

I'm in the difficult position that there are very few people in my family and none at this stage in their lives. They have no religious affiliations. My parent's doctors don't seem too involved in their future planning. It appears to be left to me to initiate the conversation, even from this distance. They seem to think everything is in control while nothing seems to be in place. 

 

I may try to frame the conversation around my concern about my mother-in-law, who also didn't plan ahead and is now in Europe by herself after choosing to move there with my now-deceased father-in-law while in their seventies. At least she is looking into senior facilities.

 

Thank you for your input, I'm going to look into some of your suggestions.

Laura

 

Parents aren't the only ones you should talk to about this.  Many younger people with children have no instructions in place about their children or estates.  Everyone needs to have some kind of a will as well as medical instructions.  I was appalled to find out that my daughter and her husband had no will when they were getting ready to cruise to Europe, leaving minor children at home with their Aunt in charge.  They have one now!

 

@LauraLG28 Here are some articles that might be helpful! 

 

Estate Planning During Coronavirus 

 

Create Your Will for Free

 

The Ultimate Guide to Estate Planning

 

5 Estate Planning Documents Every Family Should Have

 

Hope these help - let me know how it's going and if you need any more suggestions! 

 

Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving

 

 

Comments

I'm a parent living with my daughter. I need advice on telling my family when I should go to a facility.  I don't want to stay at home when I'm a burden. I'm 90 and  capable of my daily routine now. I have very minor memory issues. Is there a Directive stating conditions when

it time to go in a Facility and no longer live at home?

Any suggestions.

@mimi0000 

 

There is no "set" type of directive of the type you desire but that does not mean that you could not do one legally with stated markers - mental / physical  - and inform the person(s) that you have assigned your health care directive.

 

Some people just let them know verbally and the person can rest assure that their wishes will be honored.  That does not happen every time so to make sure it should be documented and acknowledged by all parties involved. 

 

However, to do this properly, you may also need to look at your finances - would the facility be self-pay or with some (or all)  public assistance (Medicaid).  That would make a difference as to the type of facility and your condition at the time - assisted living, nursing home, personal care home or even in-home care.

 

So what I am saying is that when the time comes for your desired move to a facility based on your measure, if you cannot make the decision at that time and your designate honors it, your designated health care person(s) will also have to find the place which is affordable to you and your pocketbook - sometimes that makes the difference in their decision depending on what is available.

 

For my own-self, if I were already 90 and still in pretty good health and mind - I would start the search for the facility myself; find several options and include that in the legal directive too - then for as long as you can, you could even renew your choices periodically.

 

I understand completely where you are coming from here but so much of it does depend on the "where" and who is the payer when the time comes.

 

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