aging parents

When you get busy helping your aging parents or other elderly loved ones, make sure you take the time to help your kids understand what’s going on and how you can do things together moving ahead.

Here are five key tips you may want to consider.

Don’t pressure.

Understand that no matter what their ages, your children sense and comprehend the pressures at play. The more you press them to be part of a caregiving team, the more they may well resist, especially as they reach adulthood.

Do explain.

Work hard to explain the situation, the medical prognosis and the timetable to likely events. Giving your children information helps them make their own decisions and take what the right actions are for them.

Ask a lot of questions.

Help your children construct and express their own feelings by asking a lot of questions about how they feel now, how they think they’ll feel when there is a death, how they think they’ll cope after a death and what it all means to them.

Share your feelings.
While it’s hard, share what’s on your mind and your own feelings about your parents’ health and decline, and how you’re dealing with their impending death. Let your children see and feel your emotions: they’ll respect you for it.

Be there for them.
As much as you may love your parents and work hard to help them, never for- get or short change your children: they need you, too. They need to feel and know that they’re also an important part of your life and that they have the comfort of your time and attention.

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Bart Mindszenthy APR, FCPRS, LM

In writing the original edition of Parenting Your Parents in 2002 and the subsequent revised second edition in 2005 and US edition in 2006, Bart Mindszenthy, APR, FCPRS, LM drew upon personal experience with his elderly father and mother, listening to hundreds of people deep into eldercare, plus his professional expertise in managing crises. Boomers can best help themselves and their parents by planning, understanding the challenges and being prepared, he says.

The new, North American edition, Parenting Your Parents: Straight Talk about Aging in the Family is his ninth book.

“Everyone who has aging parents should consider what issues and challenges lay ahead,” says Bart. “Waiting until something happens isn’t fair to anyone in the family. But the trouble is, in most families aging parents are in denial and their boomer kids are in avoidance,” he says.

Since the publication of Parenting Your Parents, Bart has addressed hundreds of groups and has appeared on dozens of radio and television interview and talk shows and national television specials. He is also a regular contributing writer to Hospital News (http://www.hospitalnews.com/columns/caregiver/).

Bart also authored two books about family elder caregiving on his own in 2011: The Family Eldercare Workbook & Planner, a comprehensive self-directed complete guide to capture needed information and develop strategies for likely issues and difficult situations, and Aging Parents: 200+ Practical Support Tips from My Care Journey, a compilation of 40 columns that appeared in SOLUTIONS magazine tracking a range of specific caregiving issues and challenges with tips and tactics on how to deal with them; see www.famlyeldercareworkbook.com

Bart holds a Bachelor of Philosophy degree with a concurrent major in journalism from Wayne State Univesity.

He is Partner in The Mindszenthy & Roberts Corp., a Toronto-based firm with a subsidiary based in Michigan that since 1990 has specialized in issues and crisis communications management and strategic communications planning. Bart has received numerous awards for his work and is principle author of No Surprises: The Crisis Communications Management System (Bedford Press, 1988), which is considered a seminal work on the subject. He is also co-author of [email protected]: Be a Better Team Leader Anytime, Anywhere, with Anyone, originally published in 2001and which was the fifth best selling business book of the year in Canada. Since, it’s been totally re-written, re-deisgned and re-issued in 2011. It’s now also available as an iPad, iPhone and iPod app. For more, see www.leadershipatworkbook.com.

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