When parents grow older, many things change, sometimes everything changes. And life doesn’t only divide into a before and after, but the situation seems to creep by, sometimes almost unnoticed. The worries of the kids grow: Could mom or dad still live independently? Do we have to look after their place or put them in a retirement home? Or is it better, we treat ourselves, possibly even bring our parents into our own home? It will get to a point where tools like a walker or lift chair simply aren’t enough. The choices are difficult since there’s often no return. The parents can’t move back to living alone. It’s, therefore, all the more important to speak in time with one another, to learn more about the needs of parents and what they wish to do.
Many shy away from this conversation – for understandable reasons. Who likes to discuss the last stage of life. Additionally, the reversal of what’s familiar is tough. After all, the parents used to look after you. And now it is assumed to be the other way around?
The main bit of advice is: Don’t push this conversation any longer. If the problem becomes acute, because a parent can’t live alone because of advanced dementia because of safety reasons, there’s also time, which makes the issue even harder.
The next bit of advice is: Place yourself in the shoes of your parents. Imagine, someone would come to you and say: “Your apartment is too large, and you don’t need as much space.” “I know what’s good for you in old age.” In the parent’s head, this will cause significant conflicts in any circumstance.
Kids often make the mistake of glossing over the physical and psychological deficits of the parents, so the problems don’t seem so severe. Only, this doesn’t help anyone, least of all of the parents themselves. Every member of the household must understand that the problems will hardly improve. Usually, the state of health will continue to worsen. Therefore it makes no sense to speak exclusively about the current situation. The morning – particularly with incipient dementia – needs to be included.
Very important: The siblings should agree beforehand, who speaks on their behalf, and which course looks suitable for them. Nothing is worse for the parents than if their kids are arguing about it.
The focus of this dialogue with the parents will always be the future of their living situation. Many possibilities are conceivable. By way of instance, staying in one’s own home with the assistance of a nursing service or moving into a senior citizen’s residence or house. Additionally, it is possible that the parents draw close or even into the home of their child. If sufficient space is available in the parents’ house, a child with a family can also move back into the family home.