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My dad is 71 and my mom is 69.  They're independent and relatively healthy...overweight, which is causing some issues, but working on it. 

They're both apparently starting to feel their age.  It comes out in the form of offhand comments when I see them - things like "when we're gone" and "we won't be here that much longer."

I don't know how to deal with those sort of comments.  I would guess that there's probably a proper place for them, in that it lets my parents express how they're feeling kind of.  But it's not an actual conversation about aging.  Just the offhand comments.

Anyone have any suggestions?  I know that part of this is my own anxiety about losing them.  But I'm also curious in general about good ideas for handling it. 

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I think that similar to how you would want them to reply to your comments about mental illness. Acknowledge it mostly 

 

I have had a few difficult conversations with my mother about things like her funeral wishes. Which was mostly listening and agreeing with certain customs being stupid 

 

She really appreciated it. Thanked me and said that none of my 3 sisters would even acknowledge that she spoke when she tried to raise it

 

If you are a touchy family. Just resting your hand on theirs on the table or similar can be comforting and acknowledge the comments too

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  • 3 months later...

Late to this party, but I am your parents' age--so here are some thoughts.

First of all, there's a lot of dark humor in my crowd.  We all make cracks about being near the end, but very few of us actually believe that our time is near.  We all know there's no turning back the clock, so why not talk about it?

I doubt that your parents are about to start choosing what kind of coffin they want, but it wouldn't hurt to encourage them to discuss their wishes.  You also need to know if they have made Living Wills, regular wills, Do Not Resuscitate orders, and if so---where are the copies?  It's best to be frank about all this stuff.  It's life, and death is just another stage.  If one of them is in a bad accident or becomes ill suddenly, you will need to help the other parent with handling the paperwork and details of the situation.

One time we were visiting my stepdaughter and Baboo said something like "When I'm gone......" and she got very upset.  Well, Baboo is in his 80s, so it is realistic to face up to the fact that he might be gone one of these days. If your folks are overweight to the point of being obese, they may be reacting to the aches in their knees and the difficulty of doing daily chores like laundry and mopping the floor.  Things that didn't use to faze me at all are now becoming more of a burden.  On the day when I know I should do the laundry, I don't even want to get out of bed in the morning.

The next time one of them says "We won't be here much longer," why not ask them if they have made their funeral arrangements.  Do they want to be cremated or buried?  If burial is the choice, have they purchased a plot?  Do they have a funeral home they would like you to use?  This may seem morbid to young people, but we old farts talk about this stuff all the time.  It's just another stage in life.

If they don't want to discuss arrangements and cut off your questions, that's their choice---but most people in their 70s are already thinking about all these issues.

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thanks olga, that's helpful to think about.  I know my mom wishes for cremation, I don't know on my dad.  They have wills that are made and my brother's the executor (for whichever one dies second) out of a risk that I may be psychiatrically-compromised.  Something I hate considering, but I told them to consider.  AT one point--I don't remember when.  But for where the wills are located or who their financial manager or attorney are, I don't know.  I'll see if they want to talk about it next time they joke about it. 

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