Here’s the scenario. Mom is living in a two story home and dad is in the hospital receiving medical attention for chronic ailments. They have approached an age where health becomes a bit more unpredictable. Their children worry about the well being of both parents and have different ideas as to what is best for mom and dad. One child never wants them to move from their home of many years. Another wants to employ ‘in home’ health care providers. The third wants both to move into a senior retirement community. This scene is common and extremely challenging for the entire family!
Most families have dynamics where each child has a role known by the other siblings. One may be the peacemaker, another the authority figure, yet another somewhere in the middle. To complicate matters, all three may live in different cities or states. Many times one of the children lives in the same city as the parents and has a different perspective of mom and dad’s situation. As you may predict, families can come apart at the seams when crisis management enters the picture. All have the welfare of their parents in mind and may have a different solution as what is best for their parent’s aging challenges.
Add to the above description of family unrest the parent’s feelings. From mom and dad’s perspective, they know their children love them and want the best for them, but who knows better about what direction their lives should take then the parents themselves. After all, wasn’t it they who raised this family and made all of the important decisions as the children grew up?
It is uncomfortable and downright annoying having a son or daughter take on the role of the decision maker. It does not conform to the chain of command familiar to so many families as we travel through life.
With this dilemma of health and safety verses well being, how does a family make the right decisions and keep intact the love and communication that the family has enjoyed for most of their lives? It is a difficult solution. However one can be sure that sharing feelings and being open with each other is critical when faced with live altering decisions. Honest communication with each family member is critical. Even if one member has seemed out of the loop in the past, remember they are equally important in decisions affecting the entire family.
One of the siblings is many times closer to the situation. They see mom and dad on a regular basis. It is that child that often bears the responsibility of orchestrating a family meeting to discuss the future living situation of mom or dad or both parents if still together. Sharing each member’s perspective is critical so that all feel equally involved.
Reaching Agreement on How To Help Mom and Dad Move Forward
A consensus may not be reached, but at the very least all will appreciate the chance to voice an opinion. Before talking to the parent or parents, a meeting with a move specialist, senior real estate specialist and senior financial planner would be invaluable. Gather information from these professionals as to the services available related to downsizing, financial options and the process of selling the home. There so many businesses now available to make the transition from a home to senior housing a project that is easily done and not overwhelming. Talk to the senior real estate specialist, senior planner, mover, packing services and discuss costs and logistics. Then it is time for the family meeting. All may attend, or which ever sibling is the spokesman for the family.
A heart to heart talk to the parent or parents is now done with a plan in mind. Offer to accompany them to visit various senior communities and get a feel for the new lifestyle. Explain the advantages of moving before a crisis occurs rather than decisions being made during an emergency. Tell your parents that you want the best for them and want them in control to make the major decision of the next home they will live in. Let them know that all of the children have discussed this subject and all want the best for them. Mom or dad or both may be upset at first, but after the conversation soaks in, it may be the first step to a new freedom. The freedom from home maintenance cost of home repairs, and freedom from fear of a health emergency where there is no help or assistance may be just what the doctor ordered. The candid talk will sink in and a decision to move may follow. This process may not work for every family, but it is the best avenue for honest communication as well as the possibility to avoid crisis management. It is better to say that you tried your best to avoid a bad situation rather than say nothing and suffer the regret of never having approached the subject of mom and dad’s safety and happiness. You’ll be happy as a family unit if you offer this gift of love to mom, dad, or both parents. You as a child will never regret looking out for their best interests.