In an attempt to provide awareness (as if they really needed it) to the children who have parents in their late 70s and older, I thought it would be helpful to highlight a scenario you might be facing now or in the near future.
The aging process takes its toll on all of us. Whether it's a few more facial wrinkles, graying or diminishing hairlines, a bum knee or shifted hip, there will be physical features that single one out as, let's say, "older."
And then there's the cognitive decline, which typically includes forgetfulness and the slow-down of mental processing, something younger people tend to take for granted. Not remembering where you left your car keys is frustrating and inconvenient; but slamming the gas pedal when you thought it was the brake can be life-changing.
No one knows their parents better than their children. Character traits have been cast in stone for decades. You know who is independent and who's not.
You're close enough to be aware of when one of your parents is "starting to slip a bit" mentally; or, has had some close calls with falls, so you know balance is becoming an issue.
From my perspective, it's a new or (typically) reoccurring health issue that becomes the catalyst for folks to move to a retirement community that offers continuing care. If the children are involved with their parents' lives, they can play an active role in having that move happen much quicker.
Do you recall when you were a young teenager, having "The Talk" with your dad or mom (hint: code phrase "birds and bees" - though we are still not sure why)? Well, no matter which side of the table you're on, it's extremely awkward.
The roles are now reversed: you're the one doing the reality check with your parents as to the unique challenges they are now facing and, more importantly, what lies ahead and how will it be handled.
It's not an easy discussion topic, and from the outset you might get pushback from one or both parents. But the key is to reiterate that you love them and want to make sure they're safe and in a good place.
It's the children's prerogative as to whether or not they take an active role in their parents' aging process. They can be proactive in helping their parents just by having the "The Talk."
What better way to show your love?
Joe Agee is the marketing and sales director for The Seabrook of Hilton Head. www.TheSeabrook.com