Let’s talk: have you spoken with your parents about their health?

Our new The Tough Stuff series has been addressing the difficult questions we usually choose to avoid. Our mission is to encourage positive action and peace of mind in the Starts at 60 community through friendly, supportive discussion.

Today we’ll be discussing one of the toughest topics of all: our parents’ health.

Those of us lucky enough to still have our parents are now facing some difficult questions. The day their health declines, what will their wishes be? Could we confidently make an important medical decision on their behalf? Do our values truly align with theirs?

Even for those of us with a mother and/or father in peak form, we carry the understanding that health, at that age, can change swiftly and without notice. In many ways, this can make it even harder to broach the topic. It feels unnecessary, but it won’t be forever.

Who should initiate the discussion? Did you have to ask? Have they brought it up with you?

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For some of us at the Starts at 60 office, our parents were practical and proactive long ago, bringing their wishes into casual conversation, and putting it in writing as easily as they would a will.

For others, it was a full family affair; an organised group discussion, carefully planned and timed. Few people are comfortable contemplating their own mortality, so it can be natural for them to want to avoid the topic. But in some situations, a more assertive approach may be required. Considering one’s values is a great place to start.

Consider leading by example: record your own personal choices for yourself and, if you are comfortable doing so, discuss them openly with your parents. This can begin a long-term dialogue that will, in a small but very important way, lead to serious consideration of what is most important; information that is vital to guide future decision making.

 

Have you ever had to have this tough discussion? And if not, what is stopping you from moving forward?

This Let’s Talk discussion is sponsored by MyValues, an easy, quick and free online service where you (or your loved ones) can record your wishes, avoiding any confusion over your values should the worst happen, and encouraging serious thought over what we really want for our future. Learn more about this invaluable service at the MyValues website.