retired couple

The Dilemma of Aging Parents

Read the signs during the holidays if mom and dad need help.

Time is a luxury the “sandwich generation” never has enough of. When you have more than one generation to care for, how do you carefully weigh all of your loved one’s needs with the needs of your business? 

Because the requirements of your business, children and parents are vastly different, you are constantly being stretched in various roles. Focus can often and easily be distracted.

Just as we outsource by hiring nannies for the support of our children and office staff for our businesses, hiring a third party for aging parents is equally vital. Being proactive for aging parents reduces the costly risk of being blindsided and unprepared for precious time away from your children and business. Encouraging your parents to establish a plan with you in advance provides them with a sense of control over their future and supports their desired independence.

With the holiday season upon us, many adult children will be traveling home for the holidays. These family visits are an opportunity to start the conversation with aging parents about personal wishes, medical care and important documents.

Here are some issues you should be thinking about while you are home for the holidays:

  • Is the stress of taking care of your parent/spouse taking its toll on your ability to function effectively?
  • Are your parents still living on their own?
  • Have you noticed your aged loved ones needing help with daily activities?
  • Have you noticed your parents’ bills starting to pile up?
  • Are you noticing signs of cognitive decline such as your parents frequently losing or misplacing several items, the inability to identify family members, or difficulty following and responding to a conversation?

Starting the conversation with your parents is critical, and it can be uncomfortable. Below are some suggestions to get started:

  • Decide who will be there and when it will happen. Choose a time when your parents will feel calm, in a quiet place and give careful consideration to which family members should be present.
  • Emphasize there is not a right or wrong answer. Approach the conversation expressing concern to your loved one’s safety, peace of mind and freedom to make choices.
  • Do a practice run. It is common to feel nervous or unsure about the conversation. Discuss your thoughts with a geriatric professional or social worker to help initiate the conversation or provide professional insight.

About the Author: Darlene Spagnola is the director of client services for Theia Senior Solutions. The Princeton-based organization offers an exceptional level of concierge eldercare navigation to assist with managing the myriad of issues that arise throughout the aging continuum. 


Related Articles: