As our parents age, the conversations about death and nursing homes all begin to come to light. Talking about things like wills, money, assets, and who is going to take care of them, can all stimulate our stress response.
However, these topics do not have to be so dark and unforgiving. They can be light-hearted, transformative conversations! How is that possible, you ask?
The tone of the conversation can determine your parents’ experience of these topics. It begins and ends with you, bringing the right tone and transforming theirs. You know your parents better than most people, so consider them, their likes and dislikes, their sense of humor, and their feelings about things like death and needing to be taken care of, when you have these conversations.
Caretaking no longer has to imply giving up your life or them having to give up theirs. It doesn’t imply a nursing home. Caretaking is transitioning quickly to at-home caretaking for elders, which provides a lot of relief off the shoulders of people like you, who are expected to fulfill your parents’ needs, and them, who stress about being in tight quarters with other ill, grumpy, and injured elderly people!
Typical tasks of caretakers are cooking food, driving an elder to appointments, administering medications, etc. If you’re looking for more, perhaps your mother is not able to walk, then you can get respite care.
Respite caretakers perform more tasks of laundry, grocery shopping, some housekeeping, dressing, grooming, bathing, while still completing the standard tasks, like medicine administration.
You, as well as your parents, are likely to form close bonds with these caretakers, making sure your parents get exactly what they need from an assistant.
The topic of death is taboo in some developed societies, and more accepted in developing countries. Perhaps, this is attributed to the fact that we are applying various methods for longevity, whereas they are not in other countries.
With that being said, death might be a stressful, fear-inducing conversation for a parent approaching even their 50s. Fifty currently marks the closest time to half-life, meaning death is nearer than life.
For some, these conversations begin early. For others, the resistance to it pushes it back until the last moment.
Death can be beautiful! It can be seen as a moment of transcendence, transformation, and new beginnings. This perspective, of course, depends on the religion and spirituality of the parent. What needs to be let go verbally, physically, mentally, before they pass? How can you assist them with this through conversation and action?
Physically, you might help them create a will, so they know their assets and belongings will end up in the right person’s hands. Mentally, you might, with the help of a therapist or similar figure, locate what’s causing them agony, what regrets they have, and so on.
As mentioned, the conversation really does start and end with you. It might take weeks, months, and even years to get them feeling comfortable about these long-waited concepts. It might take a single conversation. Remembering to be compassionate, sympathetic, and patient with them as they wrap their minds around it, will ensure relief and comfort.