I grew up in a family where the senior adults were old compared to the senior adults of my friends. As a result, I have always had an affinity and natural love of senior adults. It was no accident that I did my chaplaincy training in a Geriatric hospital and spent most of my time in assisted living and nurse care units. Our older adults are very special. We can learn so much from them, their experiences, their wisdom. And so when it comes time for them to relinquish their freedoms of driving, living alone, and making those difficult adjustments, we can be loving toward them and patient. In this new and frustrating experience, they still have much to teach us. One day, we will be able to use what they teach us as we allow our children to help us make that transition.
The adult children of senior adults dread the day when they will have to approach their parents to have “That Talk.” I can tell you that their dread has no comparison with the dread that older parent has. For years, he or she has noticed memory loss, weakness of muscles, poorer eyesight, failing hearing, nervousness driving, fear of being criticized for doing something he or she did for decades without difficulty. Your older parent has long dreaded the day when you would come to mention “that talk”. Let me tell you what not to do. 1) Do not take their car keys. 2) Do not drop them off at an assisted living home for an overnight visit with the idea of abandoning them. 3) Do not have brochures of facilities mailed to them., 4) Do not drop little hints here and there of “Oh, it’s too bad you are not able to do the things you once did.” No. Be kind and come right to the point. “Well, Dad, I guess you know what’s coming. It’s time we had “that talk”. If he says OK, then talk. If he still has the strength to throw a chair at you, then back off and say nothing. Unless he has recently set fire to the house or done something clearly dangerous, give him the time to think it over and make the next move. He’s no fool. He wants to feel safe and cared for.
If you need help in getting the courage to have “That Talk” call me up and let’s meet for a session or two. This will be one of the most important actions of your life. Don’t mess it up. Call me.