Talking With Your Elderly Parents About Lifestyle and Money – Part 1

There comes a time in your life when your parents are older and you are watching over them like they may have done for you when you were younger.  You worry about them taking their medicines, about eating right, about falls in their home, and about whether they can live on their own any more without assistance.  You may also be concerned about whether they are paying their bills or handling their health insurance claims.  Another concern is if they can still drive and be safe.

While this is a normal part of the “sandwich generation” where you are looking out for your children and also for your older parents, it is still a difficult time in your life.  Of course, your parents wish to keep their independence for as long as possible, just like your children are trying to become more independent from you.  Both parents and your children, while appreciating your concern, may resent your intrusion.  This article will focus on your parents’ feelings about and responses to your concerns.

Making the determination of whether your parents can live on their own depends on their own general health and whether they have their mental abilities still about them.  Have they been exhibiting an ability to cook for themselves, clean up after themselves?  Are their clothes clean? Is there food in the house for them to eat?  Is their mail taken in on a regular basis?  Is their bathroom clean?  Are they able to get to the store on a regular basis?  Are they able to remember to take the medicines prescribed by their physician?  If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then your parents may be able to stay on their own for a while.

However, if you notice a deficiency in any of those areas, it is possible that you parents can still live on their own in their own home, but they may need some assistance, ranging from someone who can clean their home, take them to the store to someone who is on site every day for a certain number of hours a day to having a 24/7 live in assistant.  Many times parents may be resistant to this help, which is not deemed to be a positive step for them.  While you are looking at it as it helps your parents out and they can continue to live in their own home (both positive steps), your parents may look at it as a loss of their independence and privacy.  They might have to acknowledge that they are “slipping”, which is a scary concept to them.

If your parents are unwilling to talk with you about it or become agitated with you, one option in dealing with these issues is to hire a person, a geriatric specialist, who can evaluate their situation and make the determination of just how much assistance is needed so that your parents can stay as independent as possible.  There are people who may be trained as geriatric nurses, who have a specialty in geriatric psychology, who can visit with you and your parents so that a joint plan that is agreeable to all the parties can be devised.  These same people have contacts to help you locate that perfect person to help out—one that your parents will like.

Sometimes, you need help to have those conversations with your parents, when your roles have been reversed.  It can give all the parties a better point of view, and give you piece of mind.