Individuals entering their golden years may need more support than they have before, both physically and emotionally, especially when concerns arise regarding their ongoing health and lifestyles. It is here where their adult children can step in to help fill that role, either by themselves or through hiring a professional caretaker, but knowing when to broach the subject can be somewhat daunting.
That said, one easy concept to follow when you feel it’s time to approach the topic of your parents’ aging is the 40-70 rule.
The 40-70 Rule: An Overview
The 40-70 rule refers to the concept that when parents are nearing 70 years old, and their adult children are around 40, it’s time to start discussing the formers’ plans for aging if they have not been brought up already.
In some cases, these conversations will need to occur sooner due to illnesses, injuries, or disabilities, but in general, the 40-70 rule is a helpful guideline to follow if you’ve never approached the topic with your parents and are wondering about the right time to do so.
How to Communicate With Aging Parents
The topic of aging and end-of-life care is never an easy one, which is why many adult children and their parents never discuss it at all. Failing to do so, however, can lead to communication issues later on, which can damage the family’s relationships or make the aging process even more difficult for the parent(s) in question.
Even if the conversation is difficult to get started, it’s one you must have, and with that being said, below are a few tips for children who want to follow the 40-70 rule and discuss plans for the future with their parents.
Start Earlier Rather Than Later
When it comes to planning your parents’ retirement and end-of-life care, earlier is always better. Even if they are not yet showing any significant signs of aging (such as forgetfulness, mood changes, or reduced mobility), you should still be discussing their plans for the future.
That is primarily because the conversation becomes even more time-sensitive if they are experiencing (or begin to experience) those symptoms. Loss of physical mobility and mental conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia often rapidly develop after their first symptoms arise.
Don’t Wait for Them to Bring It Up
For older adults, discussing their own aging can be uncomfortable, which is why you shouldn’t wait for your parents to bring the conversation forward. Take it upon yourself to discuss their retirement and care plans.
Balance Gentleness and Straightforwardness
Since retirement, in-home care, and end-of-life planning can all be such sensitive subjects to tackle, it’s important to approach them in the right way. You don’t want to be so gentle with your parents that they feel patronized, but you also don’t want to be so direct that they feel steamrolled or overwhelmed.
Allow space in the conversation for emotional reflection and adjustment, but do your best to keep things generally on track so that things remain productive. If your parents have difficulty facing the topic, you can help them by being strong and making it clear that you will be helping them each step of the way.
Focus on Independence as the Goal
The vast majority of aging adults want to maintain their independence for as long as possible, and if that is your parents’ goal, it should be your goal, too. With that in mind, make sure your parents know that you are on their side when discussing retirement care. As long as they trust that you both have the same goal in mind, planning for their future will feel more like a collaboration and less like an argument.
Why Is the 40-70 Rule Important?
Planning for the future can be scary, but it can also be empowering. As long as you face tough conversations early and respectfully using the 40-70 rule, your parent’s well-being as they age will feel less like a question mark and more like a sure thing.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.