Now Is The Time To Talk To Mom And Dad About Their Long-Term Care Situation

Now Is The Time To Talk To Mom And Dad About Their Long-Term Care Situation

Years ago, it was a foregone conclusion that Mom and Dad would move in with one of their children and age in place. However, nowadays, families are spread apart and oftentimes, both spouses are working to make ends meet. It is much more difficult than it used to be to have a parent move in with a child as they age. One thing is very clear; it is a difficult situation for both the parents and the child. Our recommendation is to have the conversation early and often. It is much better to have “The Talk” now rather than later.


No, we are not talking about “The Birds and the Bees” talk, but about what your parents’ wishes are regarding their long-term care situation. Oftentimes, parents will think a lot about where they are going to live as they age and what type of situation they want to be in, but they do not always feel comfortable communicating that to their children, for many different reasons. I have also found the opposite is equally true, that children want to know what their parents’ wishes are, but do not feel comfortable asking. They either don’t feel that it’s right to bring it up or they don’t want to push their parents into having a discussion they are not ready to have.


I cannot begin to tell you how important it is to discuss these situations early and often. Both parties involved may be hesitant, but at the end of the day, everyone should know what Mom and Dad want regarding their living situation. If your parents wish to stay at home, many things can be done, including modifications to the home or even purchasing a new home to make that happen. If they want to go into an assisted living facility and live independently or even in a continuing care retirement community, there are plenty of tours and interviews that can happen now, to know where they will be the most comfortable. The options are plentiful, and regardless of what Mom and Dad are hoping for, it is typically straightforward.


A friend of mine recently told me how hesitant she felt about having this particular discussion with her parents. She expressed to me that she was scared they might be expecting to move into her house with her and her family. I told her, “Wouldn’t you rather know that now rather than later? Why wait to have the conversation until they need assistance and avoid the extra stress of trying to make all those decisions?” After having a 25-minute conversation with her, she eventually came around, understanding that it wasn’t so much about her and her family, but about her parents’ wishes. Just because they wanted to move in with her, does not mean that was the best thing for her family, nor does it mean that is now what must happen. Having the conversation will at least open the dialogue and allow her to express her concerns. It would allow her to explain her reasonings for what she thought would work and what wouldn’t and allow them all to talk through their options together. Ultimately, she did have the conversation with her family and found out that what she assumed her parents were expecting, was at all what they wanted. She spent so much time worrying about the assumption she was making when it would have been easier and less stressful for everyone involved to simply ask the question. Start the conversation.


I urge adult children to have conversations with their parents about aging and what their wishes are sooner rather than later. It may seem awkward, or you may feel hesitant about it, but in the end, it will avoid a lot of heartache and misunderstandings and allow you plenty of time to plan for the future.


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