In the first lesson, you’ll learn a few tools and techniques for effective communication that will sustain you as your parents age.
In this lesson, you’ll explore ideas that can help you help your parent to maintain their zest for life as circumstances change. You’ll discover some activities that you might not have thought of before. Remember that you can only suggest that your parents get involved with a new interest; it can be frustrating if they refuse and you have to watch them lose their will to live. The intent of this lesson is to give you many tools so that you can keep trying until something works. If the only behavior you can change is your own, remember that your parent can’t help but respond differently to that change, so at least that is in your control. You’ll find suggestions on how to make the most of that fact in this lesson.
This lesson will talk about ways to change how you think about accumulating things. It will give you some ideas about what to do with the things you and your parents already have once you decide to free yourselves from the burden of excessive possessions. For now, the goal is to look at artifacts and material possessions—the things that fill your rooms, have to be dusted, insured, provided space, and otherwise cared for. You’ll learn how to protect yourself from excessive advertising and a culture of getting and spending. At last, you’ll have the awareness to control your own spending habits and help your parents start to unload their lifetime accumulation of stuff.
People often live under the delusion that they’re immortal until something, like a death in the family, reminds them of their vulnerability in this world. They may not even think about what would happen to their pets if they got hit by a bus, let alone how they would like their worldly goods distributed. If they think about their health care wishes at all, it’s to hope that they don’t have to endure a painful or prolonged decline or death.
Even if you think you know your parents inside and out, you might be surprised by some of the things you don’t know, and some of those things may be important to you should a parent have to move to assisted living, become incapacitated, or die. In this lesson, you’ll learn about some of the things you should find out while you still can. In addition to the documents that were discussed before, you or your parents may have cash, valuables, investments, pensions, insurance policies, safe deposit boxes, a personal safe combination, and account numbers that will be invaluable to the executor of an estate. Do you and your parents have all those things neatly filed in one place? All of that and more will be covered in this lesson.
You’ll learn about practical and material matters in several of the other lessons in this course; this lesson will take a different tact. Every emotion that there is to experience can surface at some time when you’re involved in the inevitable changes that come with aging. This lesson will help you learn what emotions to expect in yourself, your parents, your siblings, and others. You’ll revisit some of the communication techniques that you learned before as tools for handling feelings that surface. You’ll also explore some new applications of pacing and leading, and ways to manage your own emotions.
In the past, it was the norm for family to absorb whatever additional burdens came with the declining health and abilities of elders; community and government services were limited or nonexistent. That’s no longer the case. You are not alone, and the good news is that there are services available no matter what financial situation you or your parents are in. In this lesson, you’ll explore what’s available, where to find it, and the levels or progression of help that you may need over time. You’ll also learn how to tell when to move from one level to another. After that, the lesson will go over some strategies for handling that moment when you introduce the idea of getting help to your parents. This can be a delicate matter, so it’s best to be prepared. Issues of self-esteem and layers of emotion may arise when your parents find that they just can’t do all the things they used to. The lesson will teach you to be on the lookout for this as you explore finding help.
The home care services you learned about earlier can postpone a move to assisted living quarters, but there may come a time when it’s no longer feasible for your parents to stay in their current home. You’ll learn how to discuss the idea of a move with your parents, and ascertain their preferences, fears, and concerns. There are now several possibilities for increased care or services other than your home or a nursing home. This lesson will discuss some of the common alternatives. You’ll explore the options progressively, from fully independent living to full-care nursing. The lesson will also talk about downsizing, as well as relocation and other services that you may need. Finally, you’ll learn to choose wisely if sudden illness or impairment strikes, making a progressive approach impossible.
In this lesson you’ll learn the five symptoms that reveal when it’s time for your parent to move to a nursing home. Selecting a nursing home is one of the most important decisions you can make. You’ll receive a checklist for selection that will serve you well whether you find yourself in a sudden crisis or just ahead of a parent being released from hospital. You’ll be able to use the information in the lesson to enhance your confidence in selecting assisted living or other residence options.
When the time comes to move your parent to a nursing home, your behavior can make a big difference in how well they accept the change. You’ll have to face the emotions of your parent and other family members and control your own. The communication skills based on neurolinguistic programming (NLP) that you have learned in previous lessons will serve you well: pacing and leading, gaining and maintaining rapport, and using disassociation to control emotion. This lesson will give you some more tips for applying your skills during this stressful time.
This lesson will invite you to consider death as a life event, another rite of passage in the ever-flowing river of existence. What you learn will serve you well if you’re dealing with the impending death of a loved one. If you aren’t yet facing it, the information in this lesson will help prepare you for that eventuality. You’ll learn practical tips to help the dying person, and a few more to help you cope. You’ll be encouraged to conquer your fear and reluctance enough to be fully present when death is imminent.
The last lesson talked about ways to handle the experience of a loved one dying. You were urged to choose to be fully present for that experience. The final lesson will address what to expect after the death. You’ll become familiar with various theories about grief. The lesson will also cover some tips on handling issues that might arise. Finally, the lesson will offer you encouragement and suggestions for getting closure on this life experience, and ideas for getting on with the living.