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Asking for Help with Aging Parents-Procrastination

Posted Oct 28 2008 9:47pm

Generation The professionals I work with in senior housing and senior services often struggle with how to get their elderly clients and their families to plan ahead for health care needs and costs.

The fact is, we are working against human nature to ask people to draft wills, identify health care representatives, create trusts, and then talk about their wishes with their families. These activities imply that someday things will be different than they are today most of us are uncomfortable with change.  We procrastinate when it comes to doing things that make us uncomfortable. 

Yesterday I told you about my colleague "Sandy." She knew one day she would need to address her parent's need to move. That conversation would stir up other conversations about comfortable family dynamics. So, she procrastinated, but that day came despite her trying to put it off.

We're working against human nature...

Her willingness to reach out and ask for help resulted in her feeling vulnerable, unprofessional, and embarrassed. These feelings are a result of thinking she couldn't talk with a colleague about her personal struggles, she was the oldest daughter and so "should" have it all under control, and thinking she should have done something earlier.

I've written lots of posts about starting conversations with aging parents about moving:

When the adult child reaches out and asks for help they are often struck by emotions for which they did not expect.

  • Anger-Why do I have to be the one to deal with this?
  • Sadness-Aging parents declining health naturally leaves us feeling sad
  • Guilt-All the "shoulds" we tell ourselves. I should have done something sooner.
  • Relief-Asking for help means you don't have to do it alone.  AND finally tackling the white elephant in the room while difficult, does provide some relief.
  • More Guilt-as a result of feeling some relief.
  • Vulnerable-I shouldn't have to ask for help with this.
  • Shame-I waited too long to ask for help, now things are harder than they would have been had I asked for help earlier.
  • Stress-How will I find time to deal with all of this?
  • Overwhelmed-Now during a time of crisis you find yourself needing to learn about senior housing and senior services. This is a kin to trying to learn a foreign language during a tornado.
  • Confused-Our parents role has always been the one to protect us. All of a sudden, that isn't true anymore. What happened?

And that's just the first day!

There's no "right" way to deal with issues of our aging parents.  Once you get past that fear of being vulnerable and reaching out to ask for help, you'll start to see people nod their heads as you talk about struggling with your aging parents.  You'll start to hear "that's normal."

You'll start to feel less crazy, less guilty, and less alone.

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