Sunday, February 5, 2012

5 Conversation Starters with Your me make a list.

Mexico 10 years ago - time passes quickly!
I have recovered from a cold recently.  My husband and I just returned from China.  We are living in park model 1600 miles from home.  We are talking about driving into Mexico to Guaymas. I am 70 and my husband is 74.  We are very active retired teachers.  Yet, when I feel ill, I begin to worry about a time when I will feel bad and won't get better.

Time is passing faster than we care to admit.  The time for bonding with our children on that level where they may be asked to really help us and not just offer helpful advice is coming.  We need to pave the way for a smooth transition when that time comes.  It has occurred to me that I need to find out what they think. So I am thinking about some questions that I can ask that will help our family when that time comes.

There will be 5 and only 5 questions.  Rule # 1:  Don't ask all of these questions on the same day.  I want information not a family feud!
  1. If we don't tell you, how will you know when we cannot manage our finances?
  2. Can you describe the place your father and I will live in when we cannot live independently. The answer for this cannot include any labels like "nursing home" or "assisted living" even though the description may fit those places.
  3. How will you handle "traveling problems" if they should occur? This may include a discussion about whether we should even drive.
  4. Which of you will be in charge when the time comes for life changing decisions?  Can you work together?
  5. How will you help us live independently?  
My husband and I are living a wonderful life.  We always try to create an image of successful aging.  I can see that my children may not recognize that we are going to need help.  I know this list needs to be longer but maybe just asking a few simply questions will open the door for the dialogue.  The unasked question is always "How will you even find time to help us?" but then that is for another day.   If you have suggestions, please tell me.  We need to begin compiling a list of helpful conversation starters with our children on this subject.


Note: I need for you to understand that asking too many questions is not good.  Children mistake a parent that is trying to get attention by asking how to run the thermostat or the TV controller as a sign that the parent is losing their mind!  Really people, don't do that.  Independence falls away when we begin craving more attention. If you want more attention just tell them so and make arrangements that will satisfy your needs.  Children cannot read your mind.  This post is not about that kind of help/questions.

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  1. When I've had these conversations with my Mother I've turned it around and asked her what she thinks she would like. I think our children need to know our preferences and then respond with how well that fits with their thinking. Knowing my Mom wants to stay in her home means we are committed to trying our darndest to bring the support she needs at any time into her home and to being honest when it is no longer possible.

  2. My Dad was a CPA. We would have "family drills" about finances, living arrangements and much more

    But the reality was that after my Dad died my mother became very blind--and because she was cognizant and we loved her very much we did as she wished even if it wasn't really best for her or what was discussed in the "family drills."

    You can force people to give up driving. You can force them to do many things but you can never and should never force them to move unless they're a danger to themselves and/or others

    My Mom did move to an incredible apartment complex. Unfortunately her macular progressed. Though she had friends in the complex she couldn't partake in the activities. She refused to have an aide until the last year. It was a very very difficult five years.

    My sister and her family bought my parents home. That was never in the plan and I can't tell you the agony it caused me as she was convinced that everything that remained in the house should stay in the house

    But I learned to adapt. I have a few things of my parents.

    I am a geriatric social worker. The one thing I know for sure is that what people say at 60 or 70 or even 80 isn't necessarily what they will want later

    But everybody wants independence and to be treated with dignity and that you can do

  3. Asking questions early and beginning the process of showing your children a glimpse of the future are very loving things to do. When you are already at the point of needing specific types of care it is too late to start the discussion. Then, expediancy takes over which may not be good for either you or your kids.


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