Maybe you are helping your parents deal with a health challenge. But even if your parents are healthy now, you cannot help but worry about the future. You want to ensure their security and comfort for a long and happy life. Caring for a parent is more than a full-time job. Research shows that one in three adult children consider themselves caregivers, yet most find it difficult to begin a conversation about their parents’ long-term care needs.
Now is the time for your parents to tell you what they want out of life for the future. When you help your parents choose Edgehill, you can be confident that you are putting a solid plan in place for health issues that may arise. You want the security of knowing your parent will receive the best possible professional care, will be treated with compassion and respect, and will be able to make the most of life.
Our senior living residents often say they wish they had moved to Edgehill sooner. This is an important point if you are concerned about older parents. The time to begin the conversation is while your parents have time to plan a smooth transition. A truly carefree retirement begins when your parents can put their worries aside and enjoy life. The worst time to make a decision is when they are facing a health crisis.
Most residents will tell them, “I wish I’d come here five years ago.” The time to make a move to maintenance-free living is while they are healthy, active and able to enjoy community life. If they wait until a health problem forces their decision, they have fewer choices and less time to make them.
If you have a conversation on a sensitive subject, be ready for a “no.” It happens a lot. You may be trying to have a conversation about staying in the family home or just asking parents to think about what comes next. They often initially say they are not ready for changes. You should remain confident, knowing that most parents who do agree to make changes usually acknowledge that they wish they’d done it sooner. They gradually find that their decision makes their lives easier and offers more peace of mind.
In many cases, putting the conversation on hold is perfectly OK. It may be time for you to back off for a time, if the situation doesn’t involve safety issues. You can go back again with new conversations or topics when the opportunity arises. If you genuinely have fears for the safety of your parent and those around them, GET PROFESSIONAL HELP. A social worker, a local case manager, a physician or pastor can say, “In this situation, these are your choices…period.” You can use professionals as your mediator in this situation so you don’t have to play the role of the bad guy. Let them do it for you.
It’s OK to disagree. When this happens, make everyone feel heard, valued and appreciated. Try to keep the conversation calm when there is disagreement. This will help keep the lines of communication open. Separate these issues from your overall relationship. Reassure your parents that you are there to help them in other aspects of their lives. Keep in mind that often parents are most resistive when they are really struggling. If communication becomes strained, call a recess. You might want to set a date to reopen the conversation in a month or two. Look for options that can achieve your parents’ goals with less risk.
Learn more about Edgehill
122 Palmers Hill Road
Stamford, CT 06902
Call 203-595-2315 to learn more about Edgehill and schedule your personal tour.
The sooner you start talking about retirement options, the better—no matter what you and your parents decide.
Do it while they’re healthy and can enjoy community life, before a health problem forces you to make a move under duress.
Do it while you have time to plan a comfortable transition, so you don’t have to rush with downsizing, selling the home or making the move.
Do it before a small health problem turns into a difficult and costly one.
The best way to learn the inside story about life at Edgehill is to talk with our residents. Come to an event or schedule a personal visit. Better than any website, you’ll learn the true quality of our way of life from the great people who could be your new neighbors.
I didn’t know.
My parents summered in New England, wintered in Florida, and traveled all over with friends. During 65 years of marriage, they saved and invested prudently. They thought life would go on like that forever.
Then my father developed Parkinson’s. He had their house adapted for his growing mobility problems, including a custom staircase elevator that cost more than $30,000. (It also cost a small fortune to remove it when we had to sell the house.)
I didn’t know that his increasing intransigence—especially about leaving the house—was the beginning of dementia.
By the time it became clear, we were under the gun. We had to place him in a dementia care unit. The house was too much for my mother, even with help. We had to sell it under duress and place her in a senior apartment on the other side of town.
For the first time in their marriage, they were apart. And my life became a daily shuttle from one parent to the other, taking each to a host of doctors, lab tests and social workers. The times they even saw each other grew farther and farther apart.
They had planned for a life together. They didn’t plan on spending down their assets on two separate facilities. My father’s long-term care alone ran more than $12,000 a month. In his last year of life, he’d apologize over and over for the burden he placed on me. He’d say, “You’re my father now.”
When we made all these 11th hour decisions, I didn’t know what a continuing care retirement community was. I didn’t know how it could have kept them closer, provided ongoing care and protected their assets. I didn’t know how much help was ready and waiting.
I know now.
Parents often wait too long before taking a serious look at their plans for health care—just in case. When one or both parents face a health crisis, they suddenly have fewer options. They can be forced to pay the enormous cost of long-term care. The burden of care also falls on you—and parents do not want that to happen.
Research at top universities, including Harvard and Tufts, proves that people can gain strength and energy at any age—even in their 90s. Socialization and intellectual stimulation help sharpen their cognitive powers. In a community setting, they get personal fitness instruction, the best possible nutrition and guidance for wellness, day after day. Perhaps most important, they are surrounded by caring friends, both residents and staff, who share laughter, lively conversations and new experiences. Isolation, inactivity and poor eating habits speed up the aging process. Community life is rejuvenating.