As our population ages, we see older adults all over the place. We’re living longer, and seniors are leading active lives. That is, until we see things start to change. I frequently talk with families about how roles have reversed, and adult children are becoming caregivers to their parents. It’s not an easy situation to navigate, and challenges are multiplied when the aging parent isn’t receptive to change, or when adult siblings do not agree.
Some issues of concern are: (1) The care, safety and comfort of our parents; (2) Their overall state of health and mobility; (3) Their mental health; (4) Their need for sexuality and/or companionship; and (5) End of life decisions.
I think it’s fair to state that discussing any of these issues with a parent is icky. Yes, icky. So we completely avoid the conversation. We tell ourselves it’s not our role, or it won’t be a problem in my family. But ask a Probate Court Judge if he/she has ever had to weigh in on families in disagreement. And ask that Judge how long these matters take to resolve, and how much money they cost. I think you’ll figure out that having a difficult conversation with your parents is ultimately better than avoiding one.
In my next blog, I’ll provide some suggestions for how to start the conversation and some tips for talking about these sensitive issues. In the meantime, feel free to comment with a question or a story to share.