Excerpt from Daily Cures, Wisdom for Healthy Aging by Connie Mason Michaelis
I am passing on some excellent information from an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Easing a Parent’s Toughest Transition” by Tom Lauricella. The material is directed at the children of parents who are downsizing, moving into retirement, living, or making major medical decisions. The author and I are absolutely on the same page; I particularly liked his suggestions for having the right conversations at the right time. All the experts say the earlier, the better, but the discussions may be difficult and awkward, so the tendency is to delay. Lauricella says, “Scratch the skin of a 60-year-old man, and you’ll get a seven-year-old child and scratch the skin of a 60-year-old woman, and you’ll get daddy’s little girl every time.” The parent-child relationship is always in the room. Some parents simply refuse to sit down and talk about options for living arrangements. In other words, it is “Not your business!” or “I’m staying right here in my home!” Resistance runs both directions.
Let’s say that your parent is resisting a discussion about future plans. The conversation might be initiated by an open-ended question, “Dad, I want to take some time to talk about your plans. I think it is important for me to know your thoughts and wishes for the future. If there was any kind of emergency, I want to do the best job of carrying out your wishes. I’m sure it is many years away, but it is not too early to talk about things like living arrangements and healthcare directives. Dad, you are in the driver’s seat, so just tell me what you’re thinking.” It is so important to empower Elders to make their own decisions, waiting too late makes that impossible. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” Ambrose Bierce