"If you're an adult and your parents are still alive and in decent health, it's likely that you'll have to take charge of their care at some point before they pass away," says Davidson. "Invariably, most adult children do what they can to avoid the conversation with their parents about how they will handle that moment. It can be awkward and embarrassing, but it's also necessary if you intend to lovingly and intelligently care for them as they get older."
Caregiving is a reality for many adult children today. More than 50 years ago, caregiving was not as necessary, as the average life expectancy was barely more than 62 years old. Today, the prevailing state of medical technology and care has advanced that life expectancy to 78, meaning the likelihood of needing extra care in those later years is much greater.
"Despite our denial, tomorrow always comes," says Davidson. "But what your tomorrow will look like and feel like will depend on how ready you are to embrace it. Caring for elderly parents can be very difficult for the adult child, especially when a crisis is what typically creates the need for a conversation about senior care."
The key parts of the equation for a successful discussion of eldercare with parents lies in each party recognizing the other's primary needs.
"Your parents need to know they can maintain control over what happens to them even when they need extra care," she adds. "Children can use this conversation as a way of giving their parents the opportunity to design their lives through the aging years, when they are healthy and not clouded by the heightened emotions of a critical medical crisis that necessitates immediate action. Children can also express their need for peace of mind for when that time comes. The main benefit of having the conversation now, rather than later, is that children and parents can work out a plan cooperatively that addresses everyone's needs, so if a trigger event happens, families can act fast to protect the ones they love in the manner their loved ones have chosen."
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