Light of Gray

Elder Care Expertise

Another Grown-Up in the Room

on February 17, 2014
Respect for authority must sometimes be hired

Respect for authority must sometimes be hired

At a recent talk I gave for adult children of aging parents, a woman who was struggling with her cantankerous father asked me what subjects were “worth bleeding over.” What battles do you fight until your stubborn parent relents?

I thought for a moment and told her that was very subjective and based on the family in question. However, one piece of advice I did offer is this: have another grown-up in the room.

Wait a minute, you may be thinking; I’m an adult. My parent is an adult. Why can’t we just work this out for ourselves?

Well, no one is saying YOU can’t. But if you can, you’re in a very rare and blessed position.

Simply put, no matter how old you become, you will ALWAYS be a child to your parents. No matter how capable you are, no matter how much they may respect you and revel in your achievements, the family dynamic established in your childhood is extremely difficult to overcome. When a parent becomes less able, and they are frightened of what will become of them as they continue to lose ground, and they are unlikely to discuss that fear with their children. If you were The Baby as a child, you continue to be The Baby as an adult, even if you’re a successful captain of industry.

So what can a child do to gain some leverage in this most difficult and contentious of situations? Bring in a pro. It could be an elder law attorney, a financial advisor, a psychologist, a trusted physician or any combination. The idea is to bring in someone with authority in a field related to the situation in which your family now finds itself to be part of your team.

Bringing to bear certain expertise can ease the anxiety inherent in addressing the need to act. After all, your parent has been around for a long time. Everything that needs to be done now is counter-intuitive to everything they’ve done up until this point. So not only do you seem like an upstart, you disrespectful, tactless ingrate, you’re forcing them to confront ideas that scare the hell out of them. It’s much better for everyone concerned if the bad news is delivered by a knowledgeable, caring and highly competent professional. Someone who can explain the situation and offer sensible plans to deal with what may be coming can be an invaluable ally.

This is an overlooked quality the right professionals bring to the conversation. They’ve seen it before, and perhaps been through it themselves (as I have). Delivered with sensitivity and authority, the actions required in planning can be accomplished more readily and effectively with their assistance.

So, as you come to the realization that your time has come, by all means, start the conversation. If you’re thinking about it, do it. Don’t wait. But don’t be surprised if you get push-back, and know that this is completely normal. Arm yourself with resources and allies, go back and get a plan in place. You’ll feel better, and once they’ve met the other grown-ups you bring to the proceedings, your parents will, too.

Please note: I will be giving a talk at Ringwood Public Library in Ringwood, NJ at 7pm on Wednesday, Feb. 19th, 2014. Bring your questions.


2 responses to “Another Grown-Up in the Room

  1. I strongly agree that having another grown up in the room is the best way to proceed with long term care planning. Since there are different aspects to consider and discuss, it’s best to bring in an expert who can address the need in a way that wouldn’t discourage your aging parent. Asking for help from a third party is not a sign of weakness. This is actually highly recommended these days especially if you need assistance regarding legal matters. Good luck to your talk on the 19th and I hope it will be a success. After your talk, I hope people will recognize the presence of care professionals we have nowadays and seek help from a personal care manager and the likes. For more information regarding the people you should talk to when planning for long term care, please continue reading here:

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