Difficult Discussions and Decisions

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. (Joel 3:14)

When the parent/child relationship gets reversed, it’s time for some difficult discussions and decisions. And, it’s better to have them sooner rather than later when you or your loved one needs care. But, whenever those conversations occur, be sure to include your loved ones in the process as much as possible and as much as they are able.

I remember when someone talked over or around my mother, she became agitated and told them, “I may be blind, but I’m not stupid.” Like Mama, many older people are still fiercely independent and want to make their own decisions.

So, how did I handle the situation? When someone talked over Mama, I simply directed the conversation away from me and back to Mama. Then, the direction of the conversation was up to her, and Mama felt like she still had a modicum of control over her life. She could choose to answer or turn the conversation over to me.   

Key questions to ask:

Where do you want to live when you can no longer take care of yourself? That discussion will naturally lead to what finances are available. The money available to us came from selling Daddy’s car and his two small CD’s. When those ran out, my sister started paying the bills with the understanding that she would be repaid from the sale of Mama’s home. Initially, many parents like my mother want to stay in their own home; but when they can no longer take care of themselves, they would rather go to a nursing home than live with and be a burden to their children.

Do you have a living will? Talk to your parents about making a living will, a legal document that clearly states their wishes regarding medical treatments and decisions. That will lead to discussions about No Code and Do Not Resuscitate. No Code means not doing anything to prolong life, and when the patient passes, they will not be revived. DNR, do not resuscitate, means measures will be taken to prolong life but there will be no attempts to resuscitate them when they die.

Who has power of attorney? Power of Attorney grants authority for an appointed person they trust to act on their behalf when they are no longer able. This can get sticky when the main caregiver is not the one with the power to make decisions. For instance, I was the main caregiver for Mama, but my older sister had power of attorney.

The task of caregiving is easier when these questions are carefully thought out with a plan in place when the parent/child relationship is upended.

Comments are welcome. Have at it.