Imagine sitting around the dinner table with your parents. You casually mentioned an article you read and how this has made you re-look at the aging process. You hold your breath waiting for the axe to drop. Your parents have never talked about aging, death or dying and this has led you to believe that this topic is closed to them. You suggest that your parents read the book as well. Although they don’t respond with much enthusiasm, you leave it on the kitchen counter on your way out the door. One month later, your mother invites you and your brother over for dinner. As you talk about the recent roadwork causing morning traffic jams, your mother mentions that she and your father read the book and they would like to discuss some things. This may start your heart racing but you simultaneously feel relieved that you will finally understand more of your parent’s values, wishes, and plans. You leave their home that night with the business card of a lawyer that they hired (ten years ago) who drafted their legal papers. You make a plan to meet again next month because your father wants to sit down with you and your brother and go over your parents’ finances. You all agree to spend the next six months slowly learning about each other in relationship to aging.
The above scenario is ideal. You open the door to discuss aging and your parents willingly accept the offer. I recognize that for many families it is not that easy. However, I find that many times both sides of the family (the senior and the adult children) each wish that the other would be open to discussing topics but because of fear of what the other’s response may be things are left unsaid. At some point it may be too late for these conversations. Remember, your family is already not talking about it so what do you have to lose? If your attempts prove futile you are in the same position as you were prior to trying.
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