As someone who has seen way too many family relationships fall apart due to an inability to bring up hard topics before they’re needed. I’ve often found myself sitting amongst emotionally drained adult children asking one question. “Did your parents not believe they were ever going to age or need help, that they never spoke about it with you??
In families where discussions of a parent’s wishes are never spoken about then dissected to see if a wish is doable in their situation. The results are the same, assumptions and a denial that allows both sides to willingly waste time. Both almost always guarantees one person will carry the bulk of the responsibilities.
Usually, I’m able to trace back in a family where a misstep in communication began the current fallout they’re experiencing. When it comes to caregiving needs the four assumptions below have always shown up in one way or another.
My parents are healthy, they won’t need caregiving. Statistics say differently as do I. We have a very narrow definition of what caregiving means as well. Caregiving isn’t only hands-on but also financial help, rides, errands, phone calls etc. It often starts with the small tasks way before any physical care enters into the picture.
My parents will just move in with “so & so” if need be. I find that “so & so” is usually a sibling or grandchild and though that may be true it’s a statement that’s ripe with assumption. If it isn’t an agreed upon plan that gets discussed regularly then one assumption leads to another and becomes a way of passing the buck where too much falls on only one sibling.
My parents will just agree to everything I want when the time comes. This always makes me smile, as I look back at all the arguments I’ve been privy to over the years. Your parents are grown adults with their own ideas on aging. I’ve never seen a parent hand over complete control until it’s absolutely necessary and even then there’s a lot of legalities involved that require sorting.
I know they have their Will done, that’s all they need. Like caregiving where we have a narrow view, we tend to have a broad view on the Will. A Will is for the estate post-death. This doesn’t allow you to make choices, access medical information or move through the systems of Care like you will need to for your parents.
If any of these sound remotely familiar, it only takes a deep breath and willingness to start talking to your parents. If you are the parent of adult children who are clueless about your wants. The same goes for you…it only takes a deep breath and willingness to start the conversation.