How To Talk To Parents About Assisted Living

This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

More and more people across the country face one of the most difficult conversations of their lives: the talk with an aging parent about elder care, assisted living, maybe, or a nursing home.

Parents may disagree that now’s the time, or just may not want to go. Some may no longer understand the issue. Other family members can have different opinions, too, and obviously, Adidas Superstar Nigo Bearfoot Men Green White 2017 Malaysia the emotional stakes are high all around.

If this is your story, if you have a parent who’s increasingly fragile or in deteriorating health, if you’ve had this talk, if you’re thinking about it, call us: 800 989 8255. You can also join the conversation at our Web site. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program, training and working with a search and rescue dog. But first, the talk. Amy Dickinson joins us here in Studio 3A today. She writes the syndicated “Ask Amy” column for the Chicago Tribune. Amy, it’s great to see you.


CONAN: And I know your family recently had this conversation.

Ms. DICKINSON: We I am having this conversation. I have been having this conversation for over two years, and my mother recently moved out of her home that she never was going to leave, and what a process for all of us.

My sisters and I have really been through, I think, probably a very typical process. You know, we had a plan. Here was our plan: No one in our family was ever going to get old. No one was going to get frail.

CONAN: That’s funny. That’s my plan, too.

Ms. DICKINSON: Yeah, that was our plan. That was the extent of our plan. And we never discussed this, ever. As a family, we just didn’t go there. And you know, my mom put it really well. She says: You get older, and she her health has been very poor for many years, but she said: You know what? You break a hip, it’s curtains.

Ms. DICKINSON: She says, we all know that. All the old people, we know this. So, you know, she was very she was very careful. She did something a lot of older people do. She masked she got it together. You know, if she knew someone was coming over, she could get it together. And so one of the things that happened in my life is, I decided to move back to my hometown in order to be with her more frequently and more consistently.

And I started spending time with her every day. And that’s when I saw you know, you look in the fridge, and you see what your parent is eating or not eating. You see that your parent is dropping things on the floor. They’re not able to keep things clean.

So over the last couple of years, we started getting more and more and more in home help. And one of the things we realized was, it really does take a village.

CONAN: And your sisters, also you have a lot of family in that area.

Ms. DICKINSON: A lot of family and neighbors and professional caregivers. And what we we finally got so that there was so much care required, that it really takes six to eight people to keep someone in their home with 24 hour care.

CONAN: And a lot of people just don’t have that luxury. Nevertheless, how do you start this conversation? Do you start it with her? Do you start it with your sisters?

Ms. DICKINSON: Here’s what happened. With us I think this is very typical you start crying in the snow, in the parking lot of the hospital because your frail, elderly family member is falling or, you know, ill or so these conversations usually start among, you know, younger family members when everyone is under duress, and it’s an emergency and everybody flies into action. And then nothing really happens because no one can broach it with the older your parent recovers enough to get back home. They’re like: That’ll never happen again. I’m good.

My mom was so great. She was like: I’m good. But we saw that that was not the case, and so my sisters and I you know, one aspect of this is, I know it tears some families apart. It actually brought us very close.

We started to talk about things we had never talked about, and we became intimate in a way that we never had been. And we part of the intimacy was the realization that we had to face this as adults and as daughters, and that we had to do the really hard stuff.

And we started talking to my mother about this about 18 months ago, and remember when your kids were young, and I remember thinking, oh, the sex talk. It’s just the one talk. Well, it’s not. It’s this took a really long time. Our mother was very resistant, and we had to keep talking to her about it, opening up as a conversation, not pressuring her because that’s another thing. It’s like you can’t force it is very, very challenging to force someone to do this. And you don’t want to Cheap Nike Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit Mid Unisex Black White Gray Malaysia someone.

CONAN: Well, legally, you can’t.

Ms. DICKINSON: Legally, you can’t, and practically, you can’t. And so what you need to do is enlist this person as a team member, so to speak. And we did something that, like, we had never done in our lives. We actually had a family meeting.

Ms. DICKINSON: I know. It was just like those TV families.

CONAN: And it’s easy to see, you know, Adidas Superstar Unisex White Black Logo Factory Outlet Malaysia see how that could well, how could you be so pushy? You were always the pushy one.

Ms. DICKINSON: Right. But here’s what we did that was probably a little smarter. And I’m an advice columnist, you know, so I’ve done all the research. So I knew it in my head. I just didn’t know it in my life.

My sisters and I, we rehearsed it. We rehearsed. We talked about it. Oh, she’s going to say this. We’re going to say that. And it’s sort of because we all know our roles, you know, it sort of went pretty much as planned. And I have to say, the thing I did that I think was the best was I actually said: I know you’re sad. Like, this is so sad.

And just to acknowledge that, instead of being all strong and in charge, I was like, I’m with you. It’s so hard, and it’s so sad. And I think that just gave us all the freedom to just say, let’s just do this together, see if we can do it together.

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