Broaching the Difficult Conversations Surrounding Elder Care

Difficult Conversations Surrounding Elder Care

As a social worker who has devoted my career to helping the elderly, one of the phrases I hear quite frequently is from children facing the health decline of their parents:

“I always promised Mom that I would never put her in a home.”  

During the course of constructing a life care plan with Rachel, I will work to learn more about the dynamics in the family that creates such a statement.  

Certainly, the first piece of advice I would give to families is:

DON’T MAKE THAT PROMISE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!  

Do not tell your loved ones that you will never have them move to a long term care facility.  

In fact, I would actually urge families to do the opposite: delve into that uncomfortable conversation with your parents, the sooner the better.  

Topics to Consider Discussing with Your Parents

Here are some topics to consider when having these difficult conversations with parents:

What is it that scares you about nursing facilities?  

Find out what it is that creates fear and anxiety and work to diminish those elements through word and action.  

Involve them in the process.  

Many facilities now will offer events that are open to the community so that individuals can learn more about the resources that are out there.  

At several places, you can even call the Admissions Director and tell them you’d like to stop by for lunch and they will be happy to accommodate you.

Having difficult conversations before they become difficult conversations in a crisis is key.  

Helping you move to a nursing home does not mean I have stopped loving you!  

Actually, the opposite is true.

Children see their parents struggle at home, realize that they are not equipped to care for these folks at home and in fact, become fearful that harm will befall them if they remain at home.

The shifting of roles from parent to child as primary caregiver and decision-maker can be really uncomfortable for all parties.  Individuals who may have always been considered strong have become vulnerable.

But nursing home culture is trying to help families preserve important bonds.  When a family finds the right facility, they can learn how to refocus their goals and expectations in this new location.  

New and satisfying memories can be made at facilities who offer Thanksgiving dinners, summer picnics, and Mother’s Day teas.

How can we afford a plan like this?  

Creating a plan with The Kabb Law Firm might seem in the short run like a significant expenditure for a family that is trying to get their loved ones’ finances in place.  But in the long run, you are creating a map for you and your family that will help in removing uncertainty and doubt and replace it with confidence that your course is clear.  

Your Elder Care Coordinator is Here to Help

As your Elder Care Coordinator, I will further reinforce these family bonds, offering reassurance to both parent and child that they have made the right choice, and acting as an advocate in the instance that conditions need to be improved.

On the occasions when clients have shared with me their “Mom made me promise” stories, it sounds like those parents have said those things in order to end a conversation about a difficult topic.

I would encourage families to challenge these individuals in a loving way, and instead look at this as the beginning of important dialogues to come.  

The Kabb Law Firm can help! Call us or contact us to schedule a free consultation today!