Recently my parents moved out of their home which they had occupied for 22 years. They have entered into another chapter in their lives. They are downsizing and moving into an apartment. I was happy they made the move as I was starting to see what a struggle taking care of the home had become for them. I was thankful it was their choice and that my siblings and I were not going to have to make that decision for them.

I have become aware of how my own parents have started to age and that we are starting down the road of quickly becoming the caretakers. My parents are relatively young 77 and 79 (by my standards) but quickly embarking on their golden years. I have begun to have mixed emotions about the role I am getting into shortly and have begun the conversation with my parents about what they want to do in the event they become incapacitated in some way. It was reassuring to me that my parents have done a good job of planning for their retirement and money will not be as much of an obstacle as in so many of my friend’s lives.

We discussed assisted living, and nursing home options and my mother reassured me that if she gets to the point she cannot be alone and cannot care for herself, she wanted me to know that she wanted me to do what I felt was in her best interest. I am both flattered that she has that type of confidence in me and scared to have to make those decisions. I know first hand it is much easier to offer this type of advice to my resident family members, but a much different situation when having to do it myself. I’m certain I will be faced with much of the same emotions my family members face. I had to deal with a lot of the same emotions when dealing with my in-laws when we moved them here to assisted living.

All of these encounters got me to thinking how lucky I am to be able to have these conversations with my parents and how important it is to do it BEFORE it becomes an issue. I see daily the struggles family members face when having to place a family member because somewhere in the past they promised them they would never place them in a long term care facility. The lesson for all of us children of aging parents is to have these conversations early and often. When the time comes, you can lessen the guilt and anxiety that comes with making these types of decisions on behalf of your parents.