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Senior and family member having a conversation

Chapter 4 - How to talk with your adult kids about making a change

We Need to Talk - What to do when you’re the topic of conversation
Maybe it was expected. Maybe it came out of the blue. We’re talking about the talk. The talk that your kids want to have. The one where everyone sits down and tells you that you need to make a change. Move into a home. Pack it in. It’s been nice knowing you. Who gets the silverware?

Your mind swirls. Does this mean the end of my independence? Am I really at this stage in my life? What about my house? Pet? Neighbours? Friends? This is me we’re talking about.
It’s through the process of considering possibilities that we begin to see solutions, alternatives, a way forward - Dr. Amy D’Aprix.

Yes, you. Exactly. We created this guide to talk about you, with you, so that you can feel in control. Just as you’ve always been. And when the time comes to talk with your kids, you’re prepared. Because really, it’s all about you.

Change Is Good, if You Think about It.

So, someone wants to discuss your future. Consider yourself loved and lucky. Not only do they have your best interests in mind, but they’re willing to join you on the journey. Sounds hokey, right. What journey? The journey we all go through, life. The next step.

And then it hits you. You feel sad, like we’re discussing the end of your freedom, your identity. No doubt your kids and close friends are struggling with the same feelings. They want what’s best for you, and yet they can’t quite come to terms with what that actually means. Will we get to see you? What about Sunday dinner?

But there’s another way to view it. Yes, you’ve spent your life caring for and thinking about others. That it’s you who may need a helping hand shouldn’t surprise or scare you. Or maybe it’s a change of scenery that’s required — a like-minded community that offers increased independence. No more laundry. A new book club.

“Every major decision begins with self-doubt,” says Dr. Amy D’Aprix, co-founder of Essential Conversations Project, Inc. and a life-transition expert and author specializing in aging, retirement and caregiving. “And yet it’s through the process of considering possibilities that we begin to see solutions, alternatives, a way forward. Rather than lamenting the past, you’re embracing the new.”

Of course, you’re still the same person you’ve always been. This isn’t about the end of your identity. In fact, it’s the opposite. Receiving extra support or being in a new place with new friends can help you maintain your freedom. This is your life, these are your decisions. You just need a little help with the details.

Slow It Down, Talk It Out.

Feeling good about the future is the goal, but it’s not like it suddenly happens after the first conversation. You may find different people can offer insights in unique ways, and that “the talk” is really one of many. But it begins with you.

This is what people in suits call the “exploratory stage.” It’s when you begin to see the value in making a life change, and start to dive into the goals and objectives behind your decision. What are you trying to achieve? What do you want out of this next stage? What, exactly, is going on here, and why?

The exploratory stage takes time. Enjoy the process and don’t rush through it. But keep in mind, as you begin to embrace the change, that your kids and friends also need time to process. “Let everyone express their emotions,” says Dr. D’Aprix.

Digging into The Details

You’re feeling good. They’re feeling good. The future looks bright. Now it’s time to consider some practicalities. Do you require support, and if so, what type? Or is this change purely social, a way to better connect with people and a community? This is the evolution of the talk: the creation of a map of needs and nice-to-haves.

As you explore the options and learn about the different types of care and support, it’s time to do some field research. Know someone who has home care? Visit them and see what it’s all about. Book a tour at a retirement residence, or even request to stay overnight or for a few days. Visit a long term care home. Talk to people living there, to the staff. Try some food and just take in the atmosphere. Can you imagine yourself living there?

At the same time, begin to figure out who is going to do what. Do you want someone to join you on a tour, or drive you somewhere? Are you looking for someone to join you for a drink to discuss what you just experienced? If so, who? If you’re selling your home or downsizing, who will help?

“Covering off these practicalities isn’t just a matter of logistics, but a way to avoid conflict,” says Dr. D’Aprix. This is especially true when you’ve got two or more kids or close friends, all of whom want to feel like they’re contributing.

Remember, this is your journey. Ask lots of questions and slow it down. Then, when it’s time, you’ll know you’re making the right decision. For you.