Your parents may have helped you for the majority of your life. They have always been people whom you can count on if something unfortunate happened to you. The thing very few children realize is that there may come a day when the roles are reversed. You may become the one who helps your parents, provides them with shelter, and ensures that they have the medications and support to continue living their lives. Let’s explore the 40/70 rule and how it applies to taking care of your parents.
What Do Your Parents Need?
As people age, they tend to lose the ability to perform certain functions. Some are more obvious than others. Your parents may develop arthritis, which could make something as simple as picking up a television remote or walking to the store an immeasurable task. They may even develop problems that prevent them from using the bathroom on their own. Other difficulties are less obvious. Older people may develop conditions that affect their mind, which includes dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and numerous other conditions. They may develop depression from isolation and loneliness. They may even begin to act out in an attempt to get someone to pay attention to them. The good news is that the majority of these problems can be prevented or treated with the right care and proper planning. That’s where the 40/70 rule enters the equation.
What is the 40/70 Rule?
The 40/70 rule states that you should begin talking to your parents about their age and the conditions associated with it when you are 40 years old or when your parent reaches the age of 70. This allows you to open dialogues before the onset of most major complications, which in turn allows you to solve issues related to the financial and legal future of your parents. It benefits your parents and yourself to go through this process.
Tips for Communicating with Your Aging Parents
It’s not always easy to talk about things like age and mortality with your parents. It can be a troubling issue, but it’s something that needs to be done. Below are some tips to help ensure that you can conduct effective communication with your parents when talking about age-related issues.
1. Start as Soon as Possible – When you reach 40 or one of your parents reaches the age of 70, it’s time to begin discussions with them. You don’t have to cover every issue in one talk, but you do need to promptly begin talking about the issues of age as soon as possible. Doing so gives both you and your parents time to think about what should be done.
2. Begin the Conversation – Don’t wait for your parents to begin talking with you about their futures. You need to begin the discussion with them. If your parents aren’t ready to talk about it, then you need to simply keep trying. If your parents don’t’ recognize a particular problem, use concrete examples to illustrate why specific issues need to be solved.
3. Sooner is Better – Time is important when discussing the issues of age with your parents. The clock isn’t going to stop simply so you can reach conclusions with your parents, which means that you need to start the conversation with your parents sooner than later. The added benefit of doing this is that any legal decisions you have to make will be better supported now than they will later. Your parents will be in a more reliable state of mind, which can help reinforce any long-term decisions you and your parents make.
4. Talk as Adults – One of the biggest mistakes children make when talking with their aging parents is that they talk to them like children. While the needs of your parents may become greater, they still retain the need to be regarded as adults. Engage in conversation with your parents like you would any other adult. Treat them with the respect you would like, and you’ll find that your conversations get more results.
5. Focus on Maximizing Independence – The need for independence is the single trait that separates children from seniors. Your parents want to be able to maintain their independence by compensating for their frailties. Focus on tools, exercises, rehabilitation and other strategies that focus on empowering your parents. Caregivers may still be required, but a greater degree of independence will make your parents happier and healthier.
6. Consider All Factors – It’s important to take every factor into account before you reach any conclusions. For example, assume that your father dies before your mother. If she begins acting strange or experiencing memory loss soon after your father’s departure, it’s not necessarily because she’s fallen ill. It’s likely because of emotional turmoil or even loneliness. Take into account as many factors as possible. This will help you create comprehensive care plans that account for the social, intellectual and physical needs of your aging parents.
7. Acquire Aid Conversations – like the ones you need to have with your parents about their futures are often the hardest to have. Your parents may be uncooperative in working with you to ensure their safe and happy futures. If you need help talking with your parents or creating solutions, then contact an independent agency or caregiver association. Places like Salus Homecare can be invaluable in acquiring the information you need to set form the best futures for your parents.