• Sharon King Todd

Aging Parents…Start Here! – The elephant in the room!

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

If you could predict when crisis was going to happen to an aging parent, it would not be called a crisis. Yet many adult children, with aging parents, struggle with where to start and what to do to demonstrate our love and support for them through this stage of their lives. You know there is a problem - you have this feeling that won’t go away but you don’t know what you can do about it, so you just keep working around it because you don’t see other options. This uneasy sense and concern becomes the elephant in the room.

Here’s how it starts to get out of control. Some of us let the fear of talking about the elephant stop them cold at broaching the topic of how their parents are managing this stage of life. Others jump right in at their own peril, struggling to juggle productive work, engage with their significant other and growing children, while putting their own personal needs and health at risk. Our lifestyles can be overwhelming at the best of times, and when you add a crisis to an already maxed out lifestyle it could easily result in life or death of an aging parent or loss of their independence.

Pre planning is one of the key things we can all do to help our parents maintain their independence and quality of life. Without it, your parent could be putting themselves at risk. The #1 priority for seniors today, according to Sheridan Center for Elder Research is to maintain their independence. In a recent poll from Ipsos shared on Global News, 9 – 10 seniors plan to stay in their home when they retire. To do this successfully you not only need a snapshot of your current situation, you need to know what to look for as time goes by. You need someone who can see the pitfalls and keep your parents safe through a plan that will evolve with them as their needs evolve, keeping them one step ahead of risk.

There are very clear signs that an aging parent is at risk, and they and a trained eye will be able to identify these issues or symptoms quickly and effectively. You see, there is no one defined list for everyone to work from. Planning to avert crisis is more like working within a spectrum, where there is a collection of symptoms or issues that in combination can identify risk. Just like every person is unique, so are the combinations of issues and symptoms to identify risk.

There are gaps in our health system that require coverage by a combination of public and private services. To navigate without knowing what to expect can be very traumatic for you and your parents, because it does not lay a solid foundation for the best options for them.

By not addressing the elephant in the room, there is no space to look at the whole person objectively and provide optimum choices to support their needs and goals for the best quality of life along their aging journey. Your parents invested in you from the day they brought you into this world. A plan is a very valuable tool that helps you to give back for various reasons. If done properly, it provides peace of mind, by averting sibling conflict because everyone will be on the same page. It helps families to make most of their time together, but still gives the opportunity to cherry pick what’s important to your family. Talk to the elephant, it’s not going away until you do.

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