As the holiday season gets underway and families come together to celebrate, it may seem like a good time to broach the topic of your future care with adult children. Conversations like this can be awkward and difficult for both parties, especially amidst the joy of the season. Each may feel a bit of denial about the realities of aging. For the elder loved one, it’s that they are no longer as independent as they’ve always been or considered themselves to be, and for the adult children, it’s that their parents still exist in their minds as strong, self-reliant figures, and this image is being turned on its head. You may not worry that having this discussion may put a damper on the festivities, but having everyone together for such an important topic may bring everyone peace of mind.
Here are some topics to touch on with your family when you decide it’s time to share thoughts about your future care.
Health: Educate your family on the reality of the current state of your health and what you know about the trajectory of your health in the near future. Perhaps you are still in good health but are planning for the future. However, if your health or independence has begun to decline, this may be a good time to share it, especially if it could be hereditary. It can be jarring to learn that a parent or family member is no longer completely healthy, so make sure the conversation is open, answer any questions and consider providing resources for your family to learn more.
Living arrangements: If you have already made arrangements to move into a retirement community or even an assisted living community, tell your family about how and when you came to this decision. Keep in mind: They may be blindsided, but also potentially pleased, by aspects of the conversation, including the idea that they will not be your caretaker as they may have anticipated. Bring informational materials about the community to give them, and let them know why you are excited about this place. This move could alter how you previously spent time with your family, so discuss how visiting will work now. Let them know that this decision will free up the family to focus on the most important things without having to worry about potential care needs. If you haven’t yet made solid plans, ask your family for their opinions and ideas about your future care.
Future care wishes: This can be a hard conversation to have, but it is important to discuss end-of-life choices and other related official matters. Discuss long-term care, your will (if this applies) and how to handle medical decisions if it becomes pertinent. Again, this can be a delicate topic to, so keep the conversation light and candid. Let your family know that you are not discussing this because it is relevant at the current moment, but because it is relevant for your future as you plan out your aging process.
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