The last taboo

Let’s talk about sex. OK, now we’ve got your attention, let’s talk about care. It seems that we talk to our parents about sex more readily than we talk to them about care. It’s the last great taboo. But the chances are they are going to need care of some sort later in their lives.

Discussing care now, while they are still healthy and can tell you what their preferences are, is a really good idea. Actually doing it is quite another. How do you start the conversation?

We’d love to hear your experience of talking to your loved ones about care. Did they try to shoo you away, sweep it under the carpet? Did they get angry or upset? Tell us what worked for you and what a difference it made to planning for the future. The Community is waiting to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Simplyhealth team

12 Replies

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  • I had no difficulty generating the parent-child talk about care. I agree that "Discussing care now, while they are still healthy and can tell you what their preferences are," is the best thing to do. That's why, when I was 84, immediately after my husband died, I updated my POA and advanced directive, made a new will, and consulted the funeral director who oversaw my husband's internment, making arrangements for my own. After a year's comparing independent living facilities I moved into the one I live in now. I have designated one of my adult children to be the one with whom I stay in contact about my medical conditions. I will be 86 in April. If you're lucky, you may find that when you initiate "the talk," your parent is way ahead of you.

  • Jakay that sounds such a sensible approach and you're probably right I'm sure a lot of older people will have had some thoughts about their future, but just not shared those thoughts or feelings.

  • ah, you're already here! ignore my email haha

  • Talking to my mum about going into care was made all the much harder due to her Alzheimer's. Which makes it all that more difficult and was adamant that she would not go into a care home. Sadly we had no choice but to go against her wishes, heart breaking. Mum hated it and I couldn't change the situation we were in. All I can say from my experience is try to be open and honest and involve as many family members as you can. Be aware that although you may not want to go into care if your children have young families to care for having an elderly relative to look after may not be possible with the best will in the world. Be honest.

  • I went through the same experience with my Mum who had dementia, it's all very well if you are mentally alert like some and able to live on your own and look after themselves , but it's another ball game altogether when there's dementia involved it's so difficult for the family.

  • MyDexter sorry you went through the same thing. Very difficult time for all involved.

  • swarwick -- I understand what you are saying, but am not sure if you were directing your thoughts to me. Right now, and in the foreseeable future, I am doing well in the independent living facility where I no longer have to be responsible for food shopping, cooking or counting on someone to clean my apartment. I order my prescriptions, know what they are for, how to take them and possible side effects. I feel capable of making my own decisions about what procedures and surgeries I am and am not willing to undergo. I understand that you had no choice but to go against your mother's wishes, just as I had no choice but to go against my husband's wishes when the time came that I could no longer take care of him. My older son has medical power of attorney in case I am unable to make medical decisions for myself.

  • Hi there, I'd just like to say that you are very lucky at 86 to be so independent and able to do everything for yourself, unfortunately there are many many people who for one reason or another mainly dementia cannot cope, Good luck to you.

  • jaykay -- seems you have everything in hand and as Mydexter states very luck to be so independent.

  • Talking to my granddad about going into care has proved very hard, as he is insistent there is nothing wrong with him, but he has Dementia, which is still waiting to be formally diagnosed. We do have POA now, which he now can't remember doing. His stubbornness we think came from his time in the Army, where he was a PT instructor... as he's still very active and his military background has never left him, which because of his condition he still thinks he is an active soldier, expect he is 90 now, bless him. I do think though that if had the foresight to think about his future he would have made the same choices you have done, but sadly we didn't get to talk with him about these things until it was too late. I feel it's great you still have your independence as a lot of facilities don't allow this where I live, which I believe is wholly important.

  • I have tried to speak to my mum about what she would like to happen and she is adamant that she wants to leave the proceeds of her house to her 3 children. My Dad also told my older brother that the house should never be sold and when he died that has been interpreted that it should only be sold once my mum is not around. This means that we have an 86 year old lady living in a 3 bed semi with a large garden that is totally unsuitable for her needs. I have tried to discuss downsizing but she finds the thought too daunting. So here we have the dilemma, there is only 1 of the 3 children close enough to care for her (me), she wants her independents so does not want a carer coming in so all of the day to day stuff sits with one person. Fingers crossed she stays fairly fit and well for the foreseeable future!

  • Its a very difficult conversation to have. I have discussed it with my Nan on numerous occasions now, she seems willing to do whatever is necessary such as sorting out Power of Attorney while she is still of sound mind, however, when it comes to taking the action she drags her heels. I think it is overwhelming when you see the lengthy forms that need to be completed and the cost that is involved. I'm not sure how to overcome this barrier without excluding her from it and doing it online, which I'd rather not do as its a big acknowledgement of the lack of independence she is trying to adjust to. I don't want to rock the boat further and have her feel that she is not in control of these things when there is no reason for her not to be at the moment.

    I am however conscience that time is of the essence!

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