Chances are, you've heard the old adage that "you should take care of your children, because some day they're going to have to take care of you." While this is often stated with a funny connotation, many of us will find ourselves faced with a parent or loved one who needs more support in their senior years. As health concerns or advancing age makes everyday tasks more difficult, additional care, mobility aids like wheelchairs, walkers or power chairs or even relocation may be required. But how does one approach such a delicate subject?
When you have this conversation, one of the keystones to creating a successful dialog is sincere empathy. Let's face it; there's a reason activities like creating a will or shopping for life insurance aren't considered fun and relaxing pastimes. We all like to think that aging is something that happens to everyone else, but of course, that's not the case.
When it comes time to have this conversation with your loved one, first put yourself in their shoes. Realize that someday this is a conversation someone else may feel they need to have with you. How would you want them to go about it? Spending some time looking at this situation from that perspective is a good way to avoid saying the wrong thing, and causing hurt feelings when you didn't intend to.
Another mistake is putting off the conversation until it can no longer be avoided. One of the hardest realities of life is that there's no way to predict when a person's health will take a sudden turn for the worse. Having this conversation can be difficult enough as it is. Trying to have it while a person is also coming to terms with a newfound health issue can make them even more resistant. It will make the conversation seem reactionary as opposed to preemptive, and you want to be able to avoid the argument that "you're only talking about this because of what happened."
Also, it's important to remember that a health crisis can have serious effects on a person's cognitive abilities. The real purpose of discussing this with someone is to have a plan in place. But should a crisis leave your parent or loved one unable to fully understand their situation, having a plan in place means those involved know what needs to be done.
While empathy and proper planning are important, perhaps the most important part is making sure the person you're discussing this with never feels like they're in this alone. It's very easy for someone coming to terms with new limitations to feel isolated, so put an emphasis on keeping things as inclusive as possible. If their driving has become a concern, don't simply tell them they can't anymore. Set up times they can do their errands with you, or help them find delivery services that suit their needs.
If in-house care or an assisted living facility is required, let them choose the caretaker or the facility. If they're having trouble adapting to a new mobility device like a walker, wheelchair or power chair, identify accessible places nearby. Help them personalize the device as well. It may seem like a little thing to you, but adding something as simple as an HDS Medallion CarryAll bag can go a long way towards making a new mobility device feel less medicinal or clinical. We’ve seen a real lift in spirits when she still feels pretty or stylish. If you're not sure what bags work best on her new device, click here for an easy-to-use guide.
In a perfect world, aging would bring us nothing more than wisdom, but we all know that's not the case. As we reach our later years, we'll all be faced with some tough choices, many of which seem to have no good options. That's why it's so important that we all take the time to make sure we talk to those we care about, and to plan for whatever lies ahead.
We were so lucky that at 85, our Mom Hazel (the HDS in HDS Medallion) made the decision to move into independent living. She picked out a lovely place where she lived for over 14 years. She even volunteered to quit driving. Wisely, she knew that if she made the decisions, she would control the outcomes.
In contrast, when she fell at 99 ½ and broke her hip, she was unable to be involved in choosing an assisted living facility, and she was ticked off for nearly 6 months. We finally took her to see every facility in the area to see if she wanted to move. She stayed put, but then felt like it was more her choice. She started to accept the situation. She even pushed for a “pretty purse that works on my walker,” and the first HDS Medallion walker bag was born.
These conversations are difficult no matter who starts them. Patient and compassionate discussions can help avoid more serious complications down the road and make the absolute best of the years ahead.
Click here to learn More About The Inspiration For HDS Medallion Designer CarryAll Bags For Mobility Devices