3 steps to talking with your aging parents about the future.
As people age, several concerns arise, often incrementally, as bodies and minds change. Activities that were once easy become more difficult, and some activities can even become dangerous in certain situations, which may lead some people to need extra support.
This is not always an easy topic to think about, and it could be challenging to broach the subject with your loved one. Some people may be excited by the idea of moving to a retirement living community, others won’t be. Some people will have come to accept aged care, others perhaps not. There are many things to consider when discussing these major life decisions, and it's essential to be prepared and take a collaborative approach when having a conversation with your parent.
We’ve put together these tips for supporting your parents through this stage in their life.
Do your research
The more you know about the options for retirement living and aged care, the better equipped you will be to have the needed conversations.
From independent, stand-alone housing to high care services, people have multiple choices as they age, depending on their health and independence.
Look at places in the local area, read about different options and offerings, and gather information about specific locations and facilities. There are various levels of care and service at different places, and depending on what your parent(s) are planning to do, some may be more suitable than others. You might be looking for criteria such as:
- Security and safety
- Home maintenance
- Pet-friendly places
- Level of health care
- Proximity to existing health care
- Co-location of retirement living with aged care
- Meals and provisions
- Shared facilities – such as a pool or community space
- Social activities
- Proximity to family, friends, and existing community activity
- Temporary or permanent accommodation
Once you are equipped with the knowledge of what is available, you can approach the conversation with a focus on solutions.
Have the conversation early
Understanding your parents’ goals and desires regarding healthy aging is essential to this process. Take a gentle, curious approach to investigate their thoughts regarding their future. You might be surprised they have it all planned out, or they may be less forward-thinking.
Firstly, ensure you are empathetic to their needs when considering how to have the conversation. Put yourself in their shoes, thinking about how you might feel when it comes to your turn to plan for aging.
- Make time to talk; in person is best.
- Don’t bring ALL the information you have discovered to the conversation; just be prepared with general knowledge about options.
- Keep it positive, and if it’s a struggle to talk, you can always come back to it later.
- Ask them many questions about what they want to do as they get older and their plans.
- Be a curious listener; try to understand their point of view.
- Share your concerns pragmatically.
- Be focused on solutions that solve their issues.
Make a plan
Collaborating on a staged plan for the coming years is a practical consideration that could be very helpful. Knowing what should happen and when will ease everybody’s mind. There are generally two kinds of scenarios you need to plan for:
- Gradual Change - Changes in body function happen slowly over time; this is inevitable. Thinking ahead and deciding about ‘at what point’ to engage in-home care or move somewhere new will make the transition easier. For example, many people lose the energy to maintain a property, this might be remedied with services, or some may decide that it’s too much to worry about and want to move to a place where property maintenance is included, like one of our Retirement Living communities. It is critical to know what your parents wish and when they’re prepared to make a significant change.
- Urgent Change - The second scenario is if there is an emergency health situation. Having a contingency plan for a sudden illness or accident is a good idea. This way, everyone agrees about what will happen if and when an urgent decision needs to be made.
Hopefully, this short guide gives you the confidence to speak with your parent(s) about their future as they age. To learn more about Churches of Christ services, visit our Aged Care and Retirement Villages pages.