Adult children today have a harder time dealing with the anticipation of their parents’ passing than the previous generation had. Most of our parents had lost at least one of their parents at a fairly early age, which conditioned them to the realities of life. Because our culture is fixated on youthfulness, vitality and active lifestyles — with TV ads full of aging men and women who run marathons and sail into the sunset on their yacht, defying arthritis, heart disease, and incontinence, we are insulated from the truth that our parents won’t live forever.
Cindy’s parents are 90 and 87. Both of them have encountered various health issues through the years but have weathered fairly well and take care of themselves. Her Dad’s mind is now getting confused, which causes a lot of stress for her Mom, who has taken on all the responsibility at home. The Mom confided in me that she doesn’t think Cindy realizes how bad her Dad is. In some ways, Mom is covering for her Dad, but this is wearing her out. Her health is at risk.
Cindy does know she must face the parental role reversal. Having always been able to go to her parents for help and advice, she now understands she must begin to parent her parents. This is a reality that all of us with living parents must face sooner or later. Today, some adult children are in their 60s having watched their parents leading active lives into their late 80s and 90s!
Encouraging our parents to downsize and get their things in order can be a hard road but is a necessary one. The way you handle it is crucial to how the remaining years will be. To make this a win-win you must show respect and dignity toward your parents. A downsize works best when it can be done over a period of time, before health issues make it necessary to move quickly.
Senior Move Management is a fairly new industry that has developed to help seniors through the difficulty of downsizing and/or moving to a new place. Many adult children find using a senior move manager one way to get things started, especially if they are busy working or find it too emotionally draining to go through the closets, drawers, and storage spaces with their parents. Oftentimes the third party has a much easier time accomplishing this task with the senior.
As I worked with Cindy’s Mom, she made the comment that she was so happy she used my service to downsize for her girls’ sake, for they lead such busy lives. Whatever way you choose to handle downsizing with your parents, open discussion is important, and I encourage you to begin while your parents are well and able to make decisions about the things in their home.