September/October 2016

When Parents Expect Too Much

"I took care of you and now it's your turn to take care of me."
"I'm not moving out of my home."
"I don't need home care. I don't want strangers coming in here!"

Caregivers who hear this from their parents are in a tough spot. The reality is that these parents are being unrealistic. Both their sons and daughters probably work full time. Often they do not live close to their aging parents. 

Life expectancy has grown due to medical advances. Unfortunately many of these advances lead to chronic conditions. Dementia and Alzheimer's are on the rise. Research tells us the average Canadian lives the last 10 years of their life in ill health. When aging parents need care, putting all the responsibility on the shoulders of the adult children is not the solution. 

"Both adult children and their aging parents should be aware of the caregiving is a two-way process and cannot be effective without the consent and cooperation of both parties." - Caregiving To Aging Parents  

Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. We all hope to remain independent and sharp until the end of life. But it is unwise to ignore the possibility that our parents may not be so lucky. Consider the possibility that they may live for years with declining physical and mental health. What then? 

Work together to develop a proactive "What If?" long term plan. What if your parent has a stroke and isn't able to safely remain at home without support? 
Consider the following:
What are the financial costs of remaining at home? Are safety renovations necessary? Who will take care of home maintenance, laundry, meals and transportation? Is there enough money to hire help. How much support is required? Will your parents be able to maintain their independence or will they become dependent on others? Will they become isolated in their home? How much support can the family sustain over a long term? Look at the the pros and cons of other housing arrangements. 

Yes, this involves difficult conversations. Take it slow and be persistent. It is unlikely that you will agree on a perfect plan. Strive for an acceptable compromise. 

Yes, our parents did raise us. We owe them but we do not owe them everything. 

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