“The Talk” with Declining Parents – Interview with Dwain Hebda

Many of you have had the experience of having “the talk” with a teenage child. Now, as your parent continues to decline, you may have had “the talk” all over again. However, this time you had it with Mom or Dad. “The talk” can be regarding a number of life changing topics:

  • Moving to a different state so they can be closer to you
  • Giving up the car keys for good
  • Moving to an Assisted Living Facility or a Nursing Home.

Not a Popular Topic of Discussion

None of these are popular topics. All of them involve asking your parent to make some of the biggest decisions that they will have ever made. You’re asking your parent to step out on proverbial “thin ice”. Thereby trusting you to provide the assistance necessary to cover the tasks that you are asking them to give up. For example, let’s say you are asking them to move to a different location. You may be reassuring them that you would make the move as streamlined and painless as possible; you will find a new location for them to reside in that they will absolutely love.

How about trying to get them to stop driving. You may try to convince them that their groceries will be delivered. Likewise, a local sibling will make arrangements to take them to all local appointments. Asking these kinds of things of your parents is a tall order. Especially when it involves giving up a huge degree of Independence and/or personal freedoms. It is especially tough when the person you are asking is your 80-year-old parent remembers when you were in diapers!

Dwain and “The Talk” with His Parents

Dwain Hebda is a professional writer who is assisting us with an upcoming Help Me Help Momma – Caregiver Road Map Magazine publication that we will be rolling out soon. It’s a big project that will have many helpful articles from Caregivers and from experts who assist Caregivers with the task of helping their aging parents – stay tuned for details.

However, more relevant to this blog post, Dwain is also a Remote Caregiver. Dwain lives in Arkansas and his parents. Until recently, his parents lived in Nebraska. Dwain had the unenviable experience of having “the talk” with his parents. This talk revolved around getting them to agree to move to Arkansas. The move would allow them to be closer to Dwain in their declining years. Long story short – they did agree and made a fairly uneventful transition with the assistance of Dwain, his wife and his siblings.

All of Dwain’s siblings were on board and gently encouraged this move when they spoke with the parents. If the kids can agree that this particular move is in Mom or Dad’s best interest, this will greatly increase the probability that such a move or change will happen. These conversations may take place over a period of weeks or months. Finally, they culminate in one big family meeting.

Sometimes it’s Not Easy

This transition doesn’t always flow as easily. Sometimes the parents won’t agree OR one of the siblings is not only not being helpful – they are fighting against you. If one of your siblings is attempting to get Mom or Dad to take one course of action, and another is pulling in a different direction, then it’s unlikely that the parent will make any positive change. The change that you are attempting to get them to undertake is hard enough as is. If all of their trusted advisors (their adult children) are not on board with the change, then the parents may choose to not make any changes at all. Most parents want, more than anything, family unity and harmony among their kids. They definitely don’t want to take any action that will upset one or more of their beloved family members.

Obviously, you cannot control what another sibling thinks, says, or does. The only thing that you can do is to encourage all siblings to set personal agendas aside and act only in the best interest of Mom or Dad. Click on our prior Family Meetings blog post for more tips on this process.

I’m very grateful to Dwain for taking the time to share his personal experiences. He took the time to reflect on the process that he used to obtain a successful result in his situation and was good enough to share his tips with us. Click on the link below to download Dwain’s Top 12 Tips for Having “the talk” with Your Aging Parents. It’s not easy, but is worth the effort because we love them! Thanks for sharing, Dwain!