For years, you’ve played out specific roles. Your parents were always there for you.
Always the ones in charge, making the decisions when you were small, still advising and guiding you as you grew older.
Now the roles are reversed.
Your parents have aged, and it’s you who is in the position of offering guidance through the changes they’re facing as they grow older and transition to the end of life.
These are challenging times, with even more difficult talks waiting to happen. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin.
Start by using these tactics.
Be More Understanding
Sometimes it feels like everything you need to talk about has to do with some kind of loss, be it health, finances, mobility, or competency for self-care.
Be patient. Imagine how it must feel to lose so many things. This will help you to see things better from their point of view.
Remember, this is a Discussion
You’re not here to make all the decisions, but rather to help your parents to create a game plan and then set that plan in motion.
This means you need to discuss together what the options are and include them in the decision-making process unless they are no longer cognizant and able to do so.
This gives them a measure of control in a situation that might feel very much out of control, making them more likely to be cooperative in carrying out whatever plan is formulated.
Putting off conversations of this nature sometimes leaves things until too late.
Talk about what’s coming before you get there. You can’t ask about funeral plans after they’re gone.
Know Who to Include
Discuss with your parents who they want to be part of the conversation.
Do they want all the adult children to be making decisions together, or do they want one spokesperson?
Are there siblings or other relatives to take into consideration?
Always Show Honor
No matter what, these are still your parents.
They’re deserving of your respect. Let them know you’re there for them through this, no matter what. Mean it.
You can still talk to your parents about anything, just like you did when you were younger.
The difference? Now you’re prepared to handle the more difficult topics as well.
While this isn’t an easy transition to go through, as you learn to communicate in these new ways, it will become more comfortable.