3 Reasons It’s Hard to Talk About Elder Care (and Why to Do It Anyway)
Recently, one of my closest friends came to me and told me about a wonderful conversation she had with her mother about elder care. The two of them poured a cup of coffee, looked at a nursing home brochure, and had an insightful discussion about what her mom would want if she were ever physically or mentally diminished to the point where she couldn’t live alone. They followed the talk with a piece of carrot cake and a hug.
That story is a lie, of course, because no one has ever had this experience.
Elder care is like persistent body odor. Everyone is aware of it, and absolutely no one wants to talk about it. And like an unpleasant personal smell, it is hardly ever addressed directly until the situation becomes too urgent or distressing to ignore.
Given that we all get older, and that literally millions of people are living with assistance of some kind or another, why is the subject of elder care so taboo? I think there are three big reasons it’s so hard to talk about…
#1 Elder Care Has Scary Connotations
Most people, when they think of “elder care,” jump straight to images of understaffed nursing homes where senior citizens are shoved into corners in front of small, static-filled TVs. Luckily, there are kinder, gentler, and better ways to age in today’s world (either at home or with assistance), but advance planning is the key to avoiding those nightmare scenarios your aging parent probably fears. The sooner you act the better.
#2 Talking About Elder Care Means Letting Go of Fantasies
In a perfect world, your parents might want to stay in their home until they die, with you (or another family member) moving in and looking after them. Or, they might want to live in a five-star facility that neither of you can afford. By having the tough conversation, you are forcing everyone to declare their real intentions and resources. That means giving up the lies we tell ourselves, which is difficult but ultimately necessary.
#3 Even Younger People Hate to Think About Getting Older
It isn’t just older people who avoid talking about elder care. I remember the first time I talked with my parents about their future plans. It didn’t take long before I realized I would someday be facing the same issues (and ultimately my own mortality). That’s never fun or pleasant, regardless of what stage of life you are currently in. That’s no reason to put off the inevitable, though, and what you learn from helping your parents make tough decisions can help you in the decades to come.
How Can You Have “The Talk” With Your Parent or Loved One?
It’s never fun to talk to your mom or dad about elder care, but I can give you some tips to make the conversation a little less awkward and painful. For some good advice on the subject, follow my Facebook page so you’ll be notified about my follow-up article on the topic. Or even better, ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY.
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