If we have not already, many of us will soon face our parents’ decline and the resulting decisions that will be required. A fall, a car accident, a hospitalization, each forces us to address our parents’ ability to continue in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.
Most of us prefer our independence and we will fight for it long after we are no longer capable of continuing in our lifestyle. Our parents are no different. The fear of change, the concern over giving up personal freedom and the experiences of those who have been put “in the home” will make anyone unwilling to discuss the future. And yet, we endanger not only ourselves, but also those around us when we continue to allow our parents to drive or to refuse to accept help in their homes.
Addressing these issues with our parents can often be an unpleasant conversation or, even worse, it can cause increasing distrust between the generations. Parents will voice concerns over their children trying to steal their money and their houses. They will rail over their children’s unwillingness to take them into their homes even though they cared for these offspring long beyond the time that they deserved. It is not uncommon for parents to band together and “cover” for each other’s failings so that the children do not become aware of the level of incompetence until much later than they should.
Finally, a crisis event occurs and everything hits the fan. Decisions need to be made quickly and the medical coverage that everyone thought would pay for services is often not what was expected. From hospital to rehab to either care at home or care in a facility, quick decisions generally do not lead to results that we would all prefer. Worse yet, what if the children do not live near the parents? What happens to the parent who did not have the medical crisis, how do we handle that parent’s new situation?
There are no easy answers, but there are more professionals in various parts of the financial and medical industries who are mobilizing services to address these situations. We should each begin to familiarize ourselves with the types of support our aging parents may need and research provider options. The better informed we are, the more we will be at peace with the decisions that will ultimately need to be made.
We at CDA Inc. have not only lived through this parental crisis, but we have also counseled many other families through this. Please let us know if we can be of help preparing you for what may happen, or if we can help you as you navigate your parents’ transition from independence to some level of care now.