Caring for Your Parents: The Conversation
A time comes to talk to your elderly parents about their futures
ANCHORAGE - It’s never easy to have difficult conversations, and perhaps one of the hardest ones to have is with an aging parent about what they would want should they no longer be able to care for or make decisions for themselves.
Jim Clark considers himself lucky in that respect. When his wife Jenny of 49 years passed away, he said they had already settled most of the important issues.
“We talked about a lot of things over the years, but we finally decided to do something about it when we had our wills made, and that was the beginning of it,” said Clark.
But Clark said one thing that took him by surprise was when he tried to have a similar conversation with his adult children. He said they simply didn’t want to hear about their parents’ final days, whether it involved health, finances, or most particularly, death.
“Jenny and I weren't in denial. I think our children were in denial. I just think they didn’t want to hear it for a while.”
But sometimes it’s the parents themselves who aren’t ready to discuss their own mortality, despite their children’s best intentions. Lisa Wawrzonek said she met nothing but resistance the first time she tried to have “the talk.”
“I went about it the wrong way,” said Wawrzonek. “I badgered them. I was like, ‘you need to do this you need to have that,’ rather than taking the approach that they are independent adults who can make their own decisions right now. I just wanted to feel more confident that I was following their wishes in the event that something happened.”
Having that information ahead of time about how a parent wants to spend their final days, or who should have control over finances or health decisions, is important to get ahead of time. It can save loved ones a lot of stress over trying to decide what mom or dad would want. But getting that conversation started can be tough.
The Alzheimer’s Resource Center of Alaska is one place that can help people approach those difficult subjects. It offers free consultations about what to ask, what is important to get in writing as well as tips for simply getting the conversation started. Its contact number is 907-561-3313 or visit www.AlzAlaska.org.
For more information on text KTVAAGING to 28201.