Transitioning – from Adult Child to Parent Caregiver & Vice Versa

Transitions can be difficult.

Marriage, birth, death, moving, change of job, financial windfall/loss, etc.

There are many times in our lives where things change & big or small – happy or sad – we “transition” – we adjust to learn a new way of life so we can move forward.

Change & the adjustment to those changes are easier for some people to handle than others.

ONE of the most difficult transitions we may face – is the transition from Adult Child to Parent Caregiver – or from Parent to Dependent Person.

Regardless which party you are – the child or the parent – this change is rarely completely smooth.

This transition can be easier for all involved with the following ideas kept in mind.

#1 – it will always be an easier situation when the “elder” party is “in charge”.

Meaning – if it’s a good idea for a relative to move in with mom or dad – or for mom or dad to move in with a child – Let that be the parents’ idea.  Trying to force decisions on the older person is a key to failure & resentment.

#2 – it will always be an easier transition if the elder person has created a comprehensive estate plan – in advance…

Have a conversation about the status, location & recentness of documents before a lack of capacity occurs.

Often people do not discuss this with one another.  Children may be afraid to inquire as to the existence of a trust, poa’s, etc. lest they seem greedy or waiting for the older person to kick the bucket.  The parent may be loath to approach the topic for fear of upsetting someone.

The reality is – if the topic is not broached until after the older person has lost the capacity to update or create their plan – it will be TOO LATE & that might mean going to court.

#3 – it will be easier if the family has open communication.

Ideally – the parent will have pre-thought about the possibilities of not being able to live independently and decided what types of living arrangements they would prefer.  The parent will have thought about the ways to pay for the various expenses of aging & higher levels of care.

Ideally the family – assuming more than one child – will be able to communicate with each other about events that may be happening, illness, aging, money, etc. and still be civil & supportive of each other.

Ideally – the parent will be able to communicate with the child(ren) in advance of the need of what they would prefer & how it will be legally and financially possible.

SO – Communication & pre-planning on all sides can make a huge difference in how the transition from Parent to dependent person AND from Child to Caregiver goes down.

Preserving the older person’s dignity and family harmony is not impossible with a little forethought.

Some of the most difficult situations for me – are those where no planning – or sometimes worse – bad planning – happened and now the elder has lost capacity.  There is only so much that can be done once a person has lost capacity & none of it quickly & none of it ideal.

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