No, we are not talking about the birds and the bees but rather talking about having a conversation with your parents about what their wishes are in regards to their long-term care living situation. I find in my practice that oftentimes parents will think a lot about where they’re going to live as they age and what type of situation they would prefer to be in. Unfortunately, many parents do not feel comfortable having the conversation with their children ahead of time for many reasons. I also find that the opposite is equally true: the kids often wonder what will happen but don’t feel that it’s right to bring it up and don’t want to push mom and dad into having to discuss make decisions about that determination.
I cannot begin to tell you how important it is to discuss these situations early and often. Both parties are hesitant, but it is better for everybody involved to know what mom and dad think and what their wishes and hopes are for their living situation at the end of the day. To the extent that mom and dad want to remain home, there are plenty of things that can be done including modifications to the home or purchase of a new home to make that happen. To the extent that they want to go to an assisted living community and live independently now or to a continuing care retirement community, there are many tours and interviews to take with mom and dad to see where they feel the most comfortable. The options are plentiful and regardless of what mom and dad are hoping for, it is typically pretty straightforward in finding an option.
A friend of mine recently told me that she does not want to have the conversation because she is afraid that mom and dad are expecting they will be able to move into her house with her and her family. My response to her was wouldn’t you rather know that now and have the conversation now with them rather than wait until they need assistance and cause not only them extra stress but you and your family extra stress? She definitely came around after about a 25-minute conversation explaining that it wasn’t about her and her family but rather about her parents’ wishes. Just because they wanted to do that doesn’t mean that it would work for her and her family nor does it mean that that is what has to happen, but having the conversation will at least open up the dialogue and allow her to express her concerns and reasons why she doesn’t think that would happen or be able to work and look for another alternative. Ultimately, she did have the conversation with her family, which is not what they were looking for or expecting, so it was nothing more than a miscommunication. I urge adult children to have a conversation with their parents about aging and their wishes sooner rather than later. This conversation will avoid lots of heartache and misunderstanding later and allow for plenty of time to plan for the future.
If you are interested in learning more about long-term care living, please call our office at 717-845-5390, or click the link here to RSVP to our upcoming workshop to learn more about it.