• Meal preparation and nutrition
• Grocery shopping and errands
• Assistance with light exercise and outdoor activity
• Personal Care Assistance
• Medication reminders
• Status reporting to family
• Ongoing wellness monitoring
At Hilda's Helping Hands, we provide customized care to adults so they can live happier, healthier lives at home. We champion the needs of adults with a positive, empowering approach to aging that celebrates independence, dignity, and quality of life. Our caregivers receive exceptional training, support, and resources to deliver an unmatched care experience.
As our parents age, a difficult transition begins. The people who were once our authority figures, the ones who fed us, took care of us and taught us right from wrong, become people we worry about and may one day need to take care of. It’s the ultimate role reversal, and one that most of us have an extremely difficult time making.
Tough Conversations with Elder Loved Ones: Common Topics
The challenges of communicating with an aging parent can be intense and multi-faceted, and the list of hot-button topics of conversation can seem overwhelming. It’s understandable that you may be anxious about having a whole host of awkward discussions, which can include everything from your parents’ ability to continue driving to the challenges of estate planning, long-term care and even end-of-life plans. But don’t worry—you’re far from alone in this. What follows are a handful of common difficult topics to discuss with your aging loved one and some insights on why it’s critical to get them out in the open.
Are Your Loved Ones Still Safe to Drive?
Get a group of 40- or 50-somethings together, turn the topic to aging parents, and the issue of driving is likely to be one of the first concerns they mention. And for good reason; there are some scary statistics coming out about aging and driving.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 500 older drivers are injured in accidents every day. The American Automobile Association (AAA) says senior drivers are second only to teen drivers in having the highest crash death rate per mile driven, which is particularly startling given that seniors drive far fewer miles than teens. And AAA records show that deaths from auto accident are 17 times higher for seniors than for adults 25 to 64, because older adults have more health problems to begin with, making them far more vulnerable.
Do Your Parents Have a Will or Trust?
If there’s one age-related issue that enormously impacts all generations, it’s estate planning. After all, when someone dies without a will or trust, the estate goes through probate—which means a large percentage of its value is lost in taxes and court fees.
What’s more, if your parents die without estate planning, their assets will be divided among all living relatives, rather than going to the people they wanted to receive them. There are additional issues to consider as well. If your parents have a family home they wish to keep in the family, a trust may be needed to make that transition smooth and problem-free.
Given these facts, you would think that estate planning would be a standard topic around the dinner table as family members age. But it’s not. According to a national survey conducted by Rocket Lawyer, a legal referral site, 64 percent of Americans are currently without a will or trust. And even among Americans ages 55 to 64—for whom the issue presumably should be a priority—only 51 percent have made a will. Just as important, annual surveys show that only half to 57 percent of adult children have discussed estate planning with their aging parents.
Do Your Parents Have a Plan for Long-term Care?
It’s not easy to bring up the fact that the parents who have cared for you all your life may someday not be able to care for themselves. But it’s a reality nonetheless. Americans are living longer every year, and many will age beyond their ability to live independently. Sadly, many older adults have trouble facing the changes and losses in ability that come with aging. While some seniors know their memories aren’t as good as they once were or that they’re no longer able to keep up with important responsibilities, others may lack awareness that things are slipping through the cracks.
Falls are perhaps the biggest risk of all for older adults living on their own. Many common medications can cause dizziness as a side effect, increasing the likelihood of falling, and the weakness common to aging also leads to falls. If your parent lives alone she may take inappropriate risks, like climbing on a chair to change a light bulb—or she might simply forget to turn on a light at night. And once an older adult takes a fall, it can trigger a cascade of health consequences from which she may not fully recover.
Once you introduce the subject of a long-term care plan, don’t forget to discuss the cost of care as well. Bringing the subject up earlier rather than later increases the chance that long-term care insurance will be within reach. And care planning will greatly influence how your parents save and spend the resources—including real estate—they have available. Think of it this way: The longer you wait to discuss your parents’ long-term care plan, the greater the chance that they’ll wind up living with you. Of course, for some people this is an excellent solution, and one that everyone’s happy with. But it’s not a decision you want to make because you have no other option.
How to Get the Conversation Started
If you’re wondering how to start a discussion with an aging parent about a sensitive topic, you’re not alone. But whether you need to talk about moving, giving up driving, or bringing in help, knowing which words to use and to avoid can improve the odds of moving toward solutions.
Even if, in the past, your parent was sharing and receptive, this can change due to aging-related issues such as depression, creeping dementia, lowered self-esteem, or other frustrations. On the other hand, a close-lipped parent may be relieved to talk because he or she is worried, too.