Navigate difficult topics.
When changes are needed, it is important to keep your parents at the center of the conversation as much as possible, Ms. Darden Gardyne said, listening to them and seeking their input in finding the solution. “If you start dictating, it won’t go well,” she said. “It is better to ask, ‘Who can help us with this?'”
Turning to logic rather than emotion can also help bring up difficult topics, said Dr. Ali. For example, if your parents are watching TV with the volume turned up, you could ask them if they’re having trouble hearing the doorbell, kitchen timer, or phone to talk about the need for a hearing test or hearing aids.
Communicate with the supervisors.
Mr Elias’ mother lives alone with the help of aides, but the agency that employs her has had a hard time sending the same helpers consistently, a situation made worse by the pandemic when people were afraid to turn around others around them take care of homes. To make life easier for everyone involved, Mr. Elias created a “handbook” for rescuers that includes information on their medication and health problems, but also his mother’s favorite dishes, her daily routines and the phone numbers of local relatives she can talk to when she is excited. “She can panic if she sees a stranger in her house,” said Elias.
Mr. Troy, of the Holocaust Survival Program, advises adult children to make friends with the people in their parents’ lives, including domestic helpers, neighbors, local repair workers, or friends. “Not only can you keep an eye on your loved one when you are away, but you can report any changes your loved one may not share,” he said or helped them with small matters on your behalf.
Encourage the movement.
Without events and friends to attend, parents might have got into the habit of napping more or watching TV more, said Leslie Forde, founder of Mommy’s Hierarchy of Needs, a company that researches and engages with mothers’ self-sufficiency advises family-friendly policy. It may not be on their to-do list, but helping parents get back to activity can improve their physical and mental health. When Ms. Forde recently reconnected with her parents, she suggested they go for a walk in the playground, where they enjoyed watching the children, running small errands on foot, and using the stationary bike at home.
Remember, everyone can use help.
Older parents who thrived during the pandemic can also use help. Richard and Roseanne Packard of Berkeley, Calif., Both in their late 70s, took on chores like surfacing their decks themselves during the pandemic, keeping an N95 mask for each day of the week in labeled baskets for use the following week. When her college-aged daughter and grandson came out of Wisconsin for five days in mid-May, they had jobs for them to rearrange furniture, wrap freebies and drop them off at goodwill, and move heavy garden stones. “We helped them optimize,” said their daughter Suzanne Swift. After being mostly home tied, they were ready to make some changes, “but needed tech support and muscle to get that done,” she said.
Talk about the future.
Creating medical and legal guidelines, wills, and other late-life instructions is a daunting task for anyone. Without these documents, however, the elderly’s desires for medical treatment or their estate may be overlooked. It’s best to ask: “What is supposed to have happened?” and let others take it from there, said Ivan Watannabe, managing partner at Guardian Life Insurance. This usually means consulting an attorney or estate planner. Clarifying these discussions can reduce anxiety, improve the quality of health care, and develop a plan to address the effects of inheritance tax.