The holiday season is a time to give, express gratitude and reconnect with the people we love most. While these visits are primarily filled with joy and festivities, they can also reveal physical and mental health issues within our older family members, especially if it has been quite some time since you last saw them.
While discussing important, yet highly sensitive topics such as your older parent’s current state of health, finances, living situation, etc. can be unsettling and intimidating for all parties involved, there’s no better time than the start of a new year to get these types of things in order. Here are a few conversations to consider bringing up in private during this year’s visit.
If you don’t already know where your parents see themselves living in their later years, now is a great time to find out. He or she may be perfectly fine to continue living at home for the foreseeable future, but at some point they’ll likely need some additional assistance.
Knowing whether they would prefer to enlist in-home care services or move into an independent/assisted living community will not only help ensure their needs are met, but will provide you with peace of mind knowing that when this time comes, you’re doing right by them and ensuring their wishes are fulfilled.
It’s often easier to have this conversation before the need is immediate, when tempers won’t be quite as high about a fast approaching and imminent change.
Nobody wants to think about our own or our loved ones’ declining health, but it’s important to be aware of their beliefs and wishes should a life-threatening injury or illness arise. Once this topic has been put on the table, ask questions such as:
- “How is your health? What are your doctors saying these days?”
- “What are the names and phone numbers of your physicians?”
- “Can you please provide me with a list of any and all medications/supplements you’re currently taking?”
- “I want to make sure I clearly understand your wishes regarding health care should you ever experience a life-threatening injury or illness. What are your preferences when it comes to extreme health care measures? Are you interested in setting up an advanced health care directive, living will, medical power of attorney or any other similar arrangement? How can I help ensure all of your wishes are fulfilled?”
While these situations may not appear pressing right now, taking the time to talk about them sooner can save you and your family members a lot of anguish down the road. Plus, these types of conversations tend to be far more effective and comfortable when held in the living room or dining room as opposed to an emergency department.
Your parents’ finances not only play a significant role in their quality of life, but also their health and well-being. If he or she does not have enough money to pay for healthy, nutritious food, quality health care and other similar necessities, it can have serious adverse effects on both their well-being and their life expectancy.
Try and ask questions to determine if they’re having difficulty paying for all the things they need to live a healthy, happy life, and also try to find out if they’re struggling to keep up with bills (whether it’s a financial issue or simply due to forgetting to submit payments).
Some potential red flags that he or she may be struggling include lost debit/credit cards, unopened bank statements, unpaid bills, bounced checks and other similar indicators that they could use some help staying on top of their finances.1
Tips to Help Ensure These Talks Go Smoothly
- Keep in mind that the end goal of having these conversations is to understand your aging parents’ wishes for their future, not to sell them on your wishes.
- Listen carefully and actively to what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. Be direct but sensitive, and ask open-ended questions to make sure you’re getting their honest opinions.
- Wait to have these discussions until a quiet, calm moment arises. You want to make sure you have your loved one’s undivided attention and that he or she isn’t preoccupied or distracted in any way.
- Don’t assume that your parent is unaware of his or her struggles, as it is very possible they’ve already identified the issues you’ve noticed and may have even taken the steps necessary to resolve these issues. Always ask, never assume.
How Ivy Gables Can Help
If, after having these discussions, you’ve determined your loved one could use some extra assistance in life, Ivy Gables would be happy to help. We offer both independent and assisted living options to suit your loved one’s unique needs.
Each member of our compassionate, experienced care team is committed to creating the best experience possible for each individual resident, and we’d love the opportunity to discuss with you and your aging parent the countless ways our community is right for them.
To learn more about our comprehensive array of services and living options or to schedule a tour of our community, contact us today.