Starting a Care Plan Conversation with Elderly Parents at the "Wrong Time" [Part 2 of 3]
Remember, you do not need to solve every issue in one conversation or with a “super care plan” that addresses every possible contingency. Resolve yourself to the fact that you will be having many conversations with your parents as they grow older and their needs and wants change. Many of the elderly suffer serious medical incidents, from heart attacks to strokes, yet some will recover fully enough to resume independence living at home. Your parents may transition from a hospital or rehabilitation facility to home many times over their lives. You motto needs to be FLEXIBILITY. Evaluate the issues before you every time they change and be prepared to respond with new solutions. I always liked the saying, “If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans”. This is good advice in general; it is great advice when developing a plan of care with your elderly parents.
The other benefit of addressing only the immediate issues is that it allows you to ease into the conversation of providing care for your parents. If you focus the conversation on addressing the current issues your parents are more likely to be receptive to care options. Plus, you can introduce care options, like home care, on a trial basis. You are more likely to persuade your parents to try something like home care for a few hours a week if they understand that it is not a permanent decision. Allowing your parents to maintain control in this way may make it easier for them to transitions to other care options IF they need them in the future. (The great thing about starting with home care is that it gives seniors control, accustoms them to accepting care, and gives family members peace of mind.)
After you have yourself in the right frame of mind for a conversation with your parents, you’ll need to work on enlisting the rest of your team and converting them to your new perspective. Your team can consist of your siblings, family members, friends, or anyone else that loves your parents and is willing to help. This is the time to look toward your priest, reverend, rabbi, butcher, baker, or candlestick maker – anyone that loves your parents and may be able to influence them.
Like every successful team you only be good if you work together and that means practice. I suggest a pre-meeting with your team where you can hash out the issues and get everyone aligned on the goals.
- You are trying to help your parents decide what they want.
- You are there to listen and offer advice.
- You are interested in addressing the issues at hand.
- You are prepared to address new or long term issues later.