Is It Time for the Talk?



How do you know when it’s time for “the talk?” Your thoughts are telling:

Dad fell again and bruised his leg badly. I’m afraid next time he could break his hip...

Mom’s having a hard time managing the house since Dad passed...

Caring for my parents has put such a strain on my marriage, work and family life...

When you’re worrying more, visiting more (and seeing more changes when you do), and wondering what the future holds for your parent, it’s probably time to start a conversation about senior care.

heart-handBefore you sit down with Mom, take some time to reflect on the changes you’ve been seeing in her health, her home, and her general well-being. Sometimes these changes happen slowly and subtly, and don’t seem like much until you stop and consider their cumulative effects. Sometimes a change is extreme, happening overnight and requiring an immediate decision — with barely any time to reflect, or even understand how it happened.


Caregivers, You’re in Good Company

Seeing subtle or drastic changes in your older loved one, or supporting aging parents from near or far? Welcome to the club: The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP’s 2015 report, Caregiving in the US, says approximately 34.2 million Americans have found themselves somewhere along this spectrum in the last 12 months, providing unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older. And this unpaid care was last valued in 2015 at a staggering $470 billion dollars, per the AARP Public Policy Institute’s updated version of their Valuing the Invaluable report.


Graphic with messaging on caregiver statistics in the U.S. 

According to a recent Merrill Lynch study conducted in partnership with Age Wave, The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity, eight in ten Americans believe that caregiving is the “new normal” in American families. Still, many adult children don’t think of themselves as a caregiver unless they’re providing round-the-clock hands-on support, like assistance with bathing and showering, feeding, or incontinence care. But the reality is that boomers comprise the majority of the 40+ million caregivers (for people of all ages) in the US, though 25% of millennials are now providing care too, per the AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving report.

7-caregiver-imageMaybe you haven’t officially considered yourself a caregiver, but if…


  • ● you’re calling Mom to check in every day, and have started assisting her with money management and food shopping, you’re a caregiver.


  • ● your Dad moved in after your stepmother passed away, and you take him to doctor’s appointments and remind him to take his daily meds, you’re a caregiver.

  • ● you pick up your mother-in-law once a week and bring her to chemotherapy treatments, and you’ve started researching home care agencies to support her in daily life activities, you’re a caregiver.

If you are supporting your parent in any way, be it on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, you are a caregiver.


Starting the Continual Conversation

Understanding your caregiving role is pivotal as you start a conversation about senior care and housing, because even if your parent or older loved one ultimately moves to assisted living — or you decide on home care — you are still a caregiver. You must still coordinate, advocate, and communicate with the care provider you choose. You will still be involved, and the conversation about care preferences is an ongoing one.


But embracing your caregiver role does not mean you must take the reins and control the entire process. And all too often, this scenario is what plays out in families, particularly when some kind of health emergency pushes the family to a decision-making crossroads they hadn’t planned on reaching yet.


Choosing care is not a place either of you will arrive at; it’s not a once-and-done decision. It’s a process, and one that will change both you and your loved one in a number of ways. Are you open to the possibilities and prepared for the challenges?


Stay tuned for more tips and insights at Open Conversations

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