Thursday, April 22, 2010

What's YOUR Plan?

Yesterday I heard an interview on NPR's Talk of the Nation with Amy Dickinson a syndicated Columnist for the Chicago Tribune (Ask Amy). The topic was How to Talk to Your Parents About Assisted Living. In the course of the conversation she said that she and her sister had a plan. Their plan was that no one in their family would ever get old or frail. I had to laugh.

How many of us have had the same exact plan? And how many of you still do? It's a wonderful plan.....until the crisis hits and it all falls apart in a matter of nano-seconds right before your very eyes.

If we could all be healthy and strong and age gracefully and just go to sleep one night and not wake up. we would never be a burden, never have to lose our independence, never have to rely on someone else to help us with each and every one of our ADLs. But that happens once in a million.

The reality is that you can have this as your plan, but you've got to have a Plan B for when it all falls apart. It's kind of like dreading having the sex talk with your kids. It's something you MUST do and the sooner you get to it, the easier things will be for the next one. Because it doesn't end with just one talk. Neither does dealing with your aging parents.

Getting started talking is the hard part, from there it will get easier even if they are the most stubborn and resistant people on the face of the earth! Plan a family gathering and plot with your siblings, children and other significant helpers to make it about talking to Mom and Dad. And if you can do it long before it becomes a reality.... you'll have some ideas of what will work and what's going to be impossible. Heck, they might even surprise you....

Refer to Chapter 2 in my book, The Everything Guide to Caring for Aging Parents, for some hints about how to get started, and how to see things from their side first.

Don't put it off.... start making a plan today.