How does one go about having ‘the talk’ with their ageing parents? Why is it so hard and taboo to talk about transitioning from one stage to another in your life? Is it because it’s considered ‘the last stage’?
I remember each time we bought this up with my parents it would end in tears and arguments, so we would leave it another few months, until eventually it was my dad that could no longer look after my mum so they took the step of looking around at nursing homes. What many people don’t realise is most of these places have waiting lists so if the time comes suddenly, which it often does when say mum has a fall, then you may not be left with the aged care place you wanted for your parent(s). Like most things in life it’s better to research and plan ahead no matter how hard the conversation. The earlier you tackle this, the more choices you have and less likely you will be feeling as though you are making big decisions under great stress in a short space of time.
There are a couple of approaches you can take with having ‘the talk’.
Firstly you could try asking your parent(s) for some advice on a situation/plan you have in mind in the future. You could try steering the conversation towards what their future plans are. Perhaps you could pass on an example of some friends/colleagues who recently went thru the process of placing their elderly loved ones in a home and mention how when the time comes for your parent(s) you’d like to know their wishes so you can follow thru on them. Explain the process to your parent(s) and how there are waiting lists and it could take some time for a place to become vacant. It was 7 months before a place became available for my parents at their chosen home.
Another approach could be to ask someone outside the family to facilitate ‘the talk’. This could be a trusted friend or a mediator. I wouldn’t recommend springing this meeting on your parent(s) though, let them know beforehand so they have time to prepare and don’t feel pushed.
The best outcome will come from an open, honest and straightforward approach. No one wants to be cornered in discussions, but the reality is sometimes the open approach does not work for all families so you need to go about this talk in a roundabout way.
There are options too, like some aged care homes offer a Day Program. A bit like try before you buy. This means your parent(s) can spend a day in an aged care home and then return to their own home at night. Your parent(s) can trial this service as long as they like and there is no obligation to go with that facility. One such facility that offers this service is Medical & Aged Care Group who have a number of homes around Melbourne. You can find further information on their website:
Information shared now can prevent confusion and rash decisions later. It’s the talk you have to have and one day your kids will be doing the same to you & me! Let us know if you have any other ideas or suggestions.