Your Parents Are Getting Older: It Is Time to Talk

I answered an interesting question a while back:

How do you tell your parents that they are getting old and need care for their age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.?

You might start by saying, “I’m concerned.” This is not about money. This is not about how you may have yelled at each other at another time. This issue is about reality. This issue is about caring for older parents in time to help. The ailments you mention occur more often in older adults. Families should be planning for that early. Hiding your head in the sand is not a good approach; don’t pretend your parents are not aging.

Don't bury your head in the sand

Don’t Bury Your Head in the Sand

Families means you AND your parents.

If you work together, you’ll likely have a better outcome.

Here are some very important tips:

1) Start the conversation with your parents BEFORE Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s shows up. Do it while you can sit at a table and have a conversation together. Don’t wait until you’re looking down at a hospital bed. My wife and I are in our late 70s; we started serious conversations decades ago and started involving our daughter when she was a teenager. She calls these the “gut-wrenching sessions” because they deal with the hard realities of illness, death, and dying.

2) Be prepared for some COMPLEXITY and DISAGREEMENT. These are hard issues. You won’t find a solution in one sitting. Your solution won’t be set in stone either; times change and reality has a sneaky way of getting in.

3) Find TRUSTED ADVISORS who can shepherd you through the realities. A doctor, spiritual advisor, lawyer, and financial advisor should be involved at different stages.

4) Seek input from your parents’ knowledgeable FRIENDS. They may know more about what’s really going on with your parents than you do.

Did I mention, “Get started?”

To summarize:

How do you tell your parents they are getting old and need care? Start early. Expect complexity and disagreement. Find trusted advisors and friends to help.

Ed Zinkiewicz

Your Aging-in-Life Strategist