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Elder care is on a lot of people’s minds. Whether it’s Baby Boomers starting to plan for their own retirement years or Gen-Xers starting to face the reality that their parents are aging, how best to care for senior relatives has become a topic of discussion at many dinner tables.
Discussions about elder care have become a topic in the financial community, too. In fact, William E. Ford, CEO of private equity firm General Atlantic, said in a recent interview that healthcare companies are responsible for significant innovation as they try to address issues of cost and improving quality of care in an efficient manner.
But all of this talk about elder care doesn’t make it any easier to have that discussion with your parents, or to navigate the many options available. Here are some tips for having that sensitive discussion.
Talk with other family members first. Give everyone a chance to discuss their concerns so that all of you agree on the need for the conversation. Decide who should be present. Remember, though, that if too many people are present, your parents could feel like you’re ganging up on them.
Pick the right time and place. If you know your parents get tired late in the day, you may want to have the conversation after breakfast or lunch, for example. If there’s a place where your parents feel the most relaxed, you might want to talk there. You know your parents best, so you can make the call on the place.
Have a respected professional facilitate the conversation. Your parents’ doctor, attorney, or spiritual advisor (priest, pastor, rabbi, etc.) could be a good person to help your parents make the decision to enter care.
Ask questions to direct the discussion. You can ask your parents what they would do if they fell at home or if they could no longer do basic tasks such as showering safely. “Asking questions and letting them come to the answer is a good approach,” says JoAnn Abraham, Vice President of Sales for Porter Hills Retirement Community & Services in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You may be surprised to learn that your parents are also worried or feel unsafe, and they’ll be relieved to know support is available.
Be prepared for denial. Nobody wants to admit that they’re getting to a place in their life where they can’t manage on their own. But remember, a successful conversation doesn’t necessarily mean you come to an agreement. Success, in this case, is just opening the door to further discussion.
Know what resources are available. Your local agency on aging, council on aging, state department of elder services, and other free referral services like A Place for Mom can help you and your parents come to a decision about what solutions work best for everyone.
With the steadily increasing demand for elder services, it’s not surprising that private equity firms like General Atlantic and Silver Lake are investing in A Place for Mom. I imagine that with the aging population, the need for A Place for Mom and other services like it will only grow in the future.
Have you had to have “the talk” with your parents? How did it go? Do you have any tips from your experience? Please share them in the comments.