You start the conversation and then there is a distraction. Your brother grabs a cup of coffee, your sister cracks a joke, a child needs help, and the moment passes.
Talking about any transition rarely happens until you face a serious situation. You think there is plenty of time to talk about it later, and then “later” shows up instantly.
What if you have the conversation about caring for aging parents before anyone faces a major health issue?
I appreciate when families invite me to help have those conversations while folks feel healthy, and everyone can fully engage in the important dialogue.
What do you talk about? The short answer is you get to talk about what matters most to you.
Adult children often have ideas about what the folks want and need most. These may not always match what a parent, uncle, grandparent, or the aging person involved values as most important.
When I facilitate conversations for families, we talk about values.
Children may wish to focus on safety and security. The aging parent may express feeling independent and being connected with loved ones matters most.
Once everyone shares, we then explore what that looks like.
~ What level of support is needed to live independently, and who will provide it?
~ What factors will be considered when deciding whether to continue driving? How will you fill the need for transportation when self-driving stops?
~ What does each parent (or aging person), child (or caretaker) need? What do siblings (or caretakers) want from each other?
~ Who offers the eulogy? What other wishes do folks have?
~ What do you appreciate and value about each other right now today?
Although our time together may be a couple hours, I see it as a sincere privilege to be invited into this important conversation. We share some laughter, and sometimes a few tears.
I love seeing families walk away with a better glimpse into how much they really mean to each other. When families know they can have healthy conversations, they gain more confidence to continue the conversation on their own as needed.
Going through the conversations sooner rather than later offers comfort, understanding, and peace of mind.
Not having the conversation today costs you peace of mind now and later.
What conversations are you having about caring for yourself and your loved ones?