I carpooled with three other guys that had a bit grayer hair than I, and they were each negotiating the treacherous terrain of caring for elderly parents. Broken bones, cancer, elder care, Alzheimer's, downsizing to a retirement community, and estate planning were common topics during the drive. The discussions about parents moving into assisted living were brutal for everyone involved.
These discussions prompted me to consider the choices I will force on my kids when the time comes. Arguably, some would say I have already abandoned my mental capacity.
My utmost respect to those caring for aging parents. My heart goes out to you. Seeing the vitality of those you love slip away while managing the daily details of medications and logistics is tough. I have witnessed many that have sacrificed much to care for the older generations.
What does caring for your parents look like today?
Allowing dad to buy you and your buddies another round at the local pub, flowers on Mother's Day and a card on Father's Day, herding the siblings to show up for holiday meals or quietly feeding soup on Wednesday evenings?
Subtleties comprise every relationship and make it unique. Your relationship with your parents is one of a kind and never repeated.
Culture and tradition inform the children's response to planning and caring for parents. How does your heritage dictate caring for your parents? Will you carry on this tradition or how do you expect to do things differently? What is the optimal care you want to provide? If you will be doing something less than optimal, how will you contend with this reality?
What family do you have to share the burden and how will you divide responsibilities among you?
Are you able to have candid conversations with your family about the changes to come? How can these be made easier? What resources can you use to continue the dialog? What help are you getting for your own physical and mental health before changes begin?
If your parents have passed away, what was a sweet memory you have from their final days?