‘Tis the season! Unfortunately, it is hard to be jolly when you are concerned for your aging loved ones. Many adult children have not seen their parents in months due to the ongoing pandemic. In addition, work and family obligations paired with substantial distance makes it difficult for all of us to get together as often as we’d like. This holiday season many of us will be gathering with our families for the first time in ages. Preparing for the holidays can also mean preparing for changes in our aging loved ones
You might be in for a shock.
Living far apart and getting together only sporadically can make it easy for us to not see what is happening with our aging parents. Often adult children are faced with the shocking reality of their parents’ situation when they go home to visit them during the holidays. Some of the Hurley Elder Care Law team noticed some red flags during our Thanksgiving visits and realize conversations are necessary and changes need to be made.
Our aging parents are trying to manage on their own, but they may need some help.
Many adult children notice their aging parents are not doing quite as well as they used to. The refrigerator has not been cleaned out, the pantry is a little bare, they have lost weight, regular home and car maintenance has been neglected, and they are having memory and mobility issues. These worrisome situations can be hard to assess through regular phone calls, but a visit home can make them undeniable. Realizing that our aging parents need help requires some immediate follow-up action. But what? Where do you even begin? You can start by talking to your parents and reaching out to their community of senior care providers.
Make plans to talk to your aging parents about their issues and your concerns.
The conversations are usually uncomfortable and intimidating but start asking your parents questions and start expressing your observations and concerns in a kind and gentle manner.
“Mom, I noticed that you’ve lost weight since the last time I saw you. I’m concerned that we need to figure out a new grocery and meal situation. Can you tell me more about how you get groceries and how you make meals every week?”
“Dad, I saw that the utility bill has not been paid—there was a bill on the table with a ‘Past Due’ stamp on it. Let’s talk about what’s going on. I’d like to help.”
“I know I can’t come see you every day because we live so far apart. I feel like we need to stay in regular touch, though. What are your thoughts?”
“I just recently updated my advance directive and power of attorney. It made me think about you and your paperwork. Do you have an advance directive? How about a power of attorney? Have they been updated? May I look at them?”
When talking with your parents, approach them in a way that does not sound like you’re accusing them of failing or that puts them in a defensive stance. Try a curious demeanor that is focused on figuring out where problems may lie.
Then make calls to aging professionals in their community. Caring for an aging parent takes a village. From home care agencies to assisted living communities and county aging services, there is a tremendous workforce out there ready to help you and your aging parents.
This time of year, our office receives a sharp increase in calls from concerned family members.
Elder law attorneys play an instrumental role in helping families talk about aging issues and planning for this phase of life. We help our clients ask the essential questions about their health, financial, and care concerns, creating a plan that fits their legal, social, and physical needs. This is a great time of year to get the conversation started.
Even if you think your parents won’t talk about their aging issues, give it a try.
Many adult children are seen by their parents as still being young and inexperienced. The aging parent may have issues taking their children’s concerns and direction seriously. This barrier can be overcome by having a third-party bring up the issues and potential solutions. Often adult children are impressed (and relieved) by how their parents comply with the recommendations made by an attorney, doctor, or financial advisor.
If seeing your parents this holiday season has brought up new concerns for you, start asking questions and reaching out for support. Our phone consultations are always complimentary. Please call us at (404) 843-0121 to get started or reach out through our website.
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