Have you ever heard the expression, “It is hell getting old?” Well, for some of our seniors, it can be true. Just imagine; being independent, vibrant, self-sufficient, healthy, and mobile, living in your own home, paying your own bills, making your own decisions, driving your own car, going to your own social events, and being with your spouse or significant other. Awesome, right?
Then, here it comes, aging. You are getting older and older. Things you used to be able to do without an afterthought are now becoming more challenging. Getting the groceries out of the car requires more effort now. How did I get here? Through the progression of time, our loved ones begin to fade away. Our social groups, family, and spouses start to dwindle down, or death ensues. The spouse you used to talk to can no longer remember where he or she lives due to the onset of memory loss. The cousin, family friend, or even church member you would talk to for hours is now in their early or late 80’s too. You have heard that their kids had to move them out of their homes, and they are now residing in retirement homes, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes. Then, you realize that time and age have taken a hold on your spouse, and you begin to feel alone.
Now, it is you. Your children are no longer kids; they are the adults who are suddenly making the decisions for you. They have taken the car keys because they don’t feel comfortable with you driving anymore and fear for your safety and others. They start to hint or realize mom or dad is forgetful. As the parent, you are afraid to say or do anything for fear of what else they might take away or where you may be placed. Then, when you realize they are slowly taking your independence and decision-making abilities away, here comes the inevitable talk with you or your spouse. The conversation that details what they see occurring and how we need to handle it. They really love you and want what is best for you. However, you can’t help but feel,” does my voice count?”
As a result, many seniors may feel they have lost their autonomy. This can cause frustration, depression, and even resentment toward the newly appointed decision maker. Our parents’ voices absolutely should count, if possible. The best way to avoid these difficult questions is to start the conversation now! Ask your parents what they want as they get older. Do they have enough support to stay in the comfort of their own home and Age in Place? Are the children willing to pull their resources together to pay for in-home care? Do your parents have Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, long-term care (LTC) Insurance, or even life insurance? These are the questions we should be asking our parents. For the seniors reading this article, you should know that the decision maker does not have to be your children. In fact, the decision maker does not have to have any relation to you at all. It should be someone you trust to make a decision that would best represent you and your wishes. As a senior, you should choose both carefully and wisely. Unfortunately, sometimes, the difficult decision comes when a parent is in the hospital, and a choice must be made quickly.
While these conversations may be difficult or daunting, most of these issues can be answered and discussed with mom and dad way before time. If we would only talk!