Remember the first time you asked your parents why people die? What about when you first saw your grandfather get help being bathed and fed -- “why can’t ah gong do it himself?”
Those were some pretty awkward questions they had to answer.
Estimates show 1 in 2 healthy Singaporeans aged 65 could be severely disabled in their lifetime. As your parents age, their legs won’t work like they used to before. They’ll look tired and become frail. They’ll become that old person you asked about when you were younger.
Before that happens, there’s one important conversation you have to bring up. No matter how awkward it is.
Why long-term care is an important conversation to have with your parents
Just like how you might still feel 28 going on 21, our parents will always seem ageless and unfaltering to us.
But that strong, eternal image will be shattered when one day, incapacitated by old age and illness, our parents have to rely on us to function in daily life.
Perhaps it’s just like how our parents were never really prepared for their lives to be turned upside down when we arrived. Although that was a happy thing. (Right, Mum?)
Having some idea of your parents’ preferences and finances beforehand will help ease the stress that will pile on when the need for long-term care arises -- so you won’t be caught off-guard.
It won’t be easy, but start with questions
Remember when your parents first spoke about the birds and the bees? Yes. Cringe.
Your parents probably cringed more than you did. But these conversations were necessary, because helped you be aware and (somewhat) ready for life.
So it’s important to acknowledge that your parents may one day require long-term care, and talk about how you prepare to provide for them.
Do you prefer a nursing home or home nursing? Should we hire a helper? Do you have sufficient savings?
If you can’t see the point in doing this, you’re not alone. Not many people can imagine the possibility of becoming disabled in their lifetime, even if it is statistically plausible. And that optimism extends to our family members, naturally.
Think of it as preparation. Just like insurance.
Preparation is never a bad idea
Having to dress, feed, or even clean them after they soil themselves won’t be an easy thing to do. And it won’t be a good sight, but that could be either one of your parents.
You’d want to be financially and mentally prepared when the need arises, because this affects not only theirs, but also your life.
Planning for their long-term care also helps you protect your family and finances. You wouldn’t want to be torn between providing a better education for your children, and taking care of your frail parents.
It won’t be an easy topic to broach. I already foresee my relatively conservative mother wave me away, telling me not to curse her.
If touching wood helps, I’d do it every day. But it doesn’t (not in reality), and life doesn’t pre-empt us. Sadly. The best we can do is to prepare ourselves.
So it’s good to start talking about your parents’ long-term care, even if it’s awkward -- because the awkward conversations are the ones you’ll regret not having.
This sponsored post by MOH has Mothership writers thinking about long-term care for our folks.