Watching someone who took care of you decline in health and ability can be a difficult process. During the period you first see signs of mental or physical degeneration you may be tempted to start making or suggesting arrangements for your loved one.
Before you even mention the need for care, assess their situation. Expressing your suspicion can lead to adamant denial or arguments and if your concern is unwarranted, it will hinder future conversation.
E-How has a list of warning signs that elderly parents may need care, here it is:
- Increase in repeating yourself
- Misplacing ordinary items
- Dramatic Mood Changes
- Sudden Decrease in energy, appetites or interests
Keeping a journal or notebook of your concerns will also help you determine if the signs are constant, increasing—or just a single occurrence. Here is a quick link with 100 other benefits of journaling. There are plenty of reasons to write down details as you process this new season in your—and your parent’s—life.
One thing to keep in mind: the thought of losing independence is very scary. Do not consider it lightly—always focus on how you would like to approach the situation if you were the one needing help. You just might be teaching the next generation how to facilitate need for care when your turn comes.
After a lifetime of acquiring opinions and managing individuality, no one wants to be treated as a child. Include them in all parts of the decision-making process, assuring them that they will have control over their situation. Honestly discuss the feasibility of their desires based on finances, locale and any other contributing factors.
This is only the first step; there will be many more conversations to come. To provide love and care during the winter of someone’s life requires sensitivity, patience and a great deal of honesty. For end of life wishes, The Conversation Project provides a free starter kit to help you get going.
Even up to end of life desires–as long as your parents are able to contribute their wishes, do not make decisions without them.