3 Tips for Discussing Guardianship with Aging Parents
Having the guardianship talk with aging parents is rarely comfortable, but very common and requires love and support. If you ever find yourself stressed or guilty about having the conversation
Valentine’s Day is approaching, and there’s a lot of love in the air. However, there’s a special kind of love that doesn’t include a spouse or crush – the ones we share with our parents.
As we get old, so do our parents, and an uncomfortable transition begins. The people who were authority figures and nurtured us throughout our lives now need us to take care of them. Role reversal is scary, sometimes unbelievable, and requires patience, love, and possibly guardianship. If you’ve struggled to talk with your aging parents about guardianship, here are 3 tips to help with your approach.
Quick Fact: guardianship is a court-monitored relationship that takes away legal rights from a person (the ward) and gives them to another person (the guardian) for the ward’s benefit. In Texas, guardianship cases are for minor children who lose their parents or incapacitated adults. For example, an adult that cannot take care of their own personal needs or manage their finances may be considered incapacitated and need a guardian to help with those things.
#1. Compassion is key.
There are many age-related issues that we won’t understand until we’re in our parent’s shoes: depression, creeping dementia, lowered self-esteem, or other frustrations. Before you decide to approach your parent, be mindful that you both have different goals.
Geriatric communication expert David Solie, the author of How to Say It to Seniors, notes that adult children want to solve the problem and move on. In contrast, our aging parents want to maintain a sense of control and dignity while they’re in a season marked by losses. We all can understand that right? Having compassion allows you to empathize with them and what they’re going through, and together you can find the best solutions that will add aid and support in both of your lives.
#2. Timing is vital.
Our older loved ones are most sharp (and thus capable of having tough conversations) earlier in the day. You may notice your aging parent isn’t as coherent or focused in the evening. The medical term for this is called sundowning, which describes how our aging loved ones may experience confusion, anxiety, aggression, or ignoring directions from late afternoon into the evening. Having a conversation with them about your need to step in and manage more of their day-to-day should happen when your parent is most likely to be calm and rational. Shoot for 9 am to noon.
#3. Support is necessary.
Don’t have the conversation alone. Anyone with an aging parent that’s losing their memory, declining in health, or experiencing natural aging, knows it’s hard to transition them into their next phase of life. But this transition isn’t just hard for them; it’s hard for you too. Bring your spouse or siblings along to help you and to provide additional support and comfort for your parent. It can also help if your parent sees that multiple people are invested in their wellness besides you.
If you don’t have any family or friends who can be there with you, search for a professional. Senior caretakers are trained on how to have conversations with senile patients or patients with dementia. Most will give you a free initial consult and offer you tips on having meaningful conversations with those who may not be quite ready to listen. Use your resources! You aren’t alone.
If you have any questions about guardianship, we are happy to help you through the process. Call us at (214) 974-8940 to schedule a complimentary consultation with an attorney.