Making Difficult Decisions With Our Parents Instead of For Them, Part I

Rarely a week goes by when I don’t speak to an adult child of aging parents (usually a daughter) who talks about the role reversal in caring for their aging parents or the decisions they have made for their parents either without their knowledge or consent.

There is no doubt that our roles may change as our parents frail and we, as their children, assume some of what might be considered a “parenting role.”

I have always chosen to view this confusing time as a challenge to find new ways to relate to our parents. Understandably, this process can move more slowly than we would like – parents make bad decisions with which we don’t agree or we dismiss the importance of their input or even ability to “come to terms” with the changes necessary to adjust to aging.

“Life is too busy for me to wait around for my mother to agree” is a lament I have heard more than once.

Here are a few tried a true suggestions I would like to pass on as a first step in preparing for the next time an important decision must be addressed:

  • NOT ALL DILEMMAS ARE SOLVEABLE nor will they be resolved the way you want them to get resolved.
  • Not all dilemmas are equally challenging or difficult to make- so pick and choose your battles.
  • How many people are involved in the decision? Who are the real stakeholders?
  • Do the people involved get along?

Some factors to consider are:

  • Who are the decision makers?
  • Does everyone agree that a problem even exist?
  • Is the problem recent or long standing? How emotionally charged is the issue? Feelings will always complicate objectivity!

In my next blog, I will discuss “Having the Conversation”.

~ Barbra London, MSW, LCSW, LNHA