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Role Reversal: Parenting Our Parents

Role Reversal: Parenting Our Parents

Many of us have heard it said that we all go through the circle of life. Each portion of the circle reflects a role that we have with our parents and our children.

First, we are born the child.

Second, we eventually become the parents of a child.

Third, we become a parent of the parent.

And in our final days, we essentially become the adult child of the child.

People take a while to realize the adult child role has become reversed in the circle of life. Our parents are declining cognitively, physically, or becoming vulnerable in a way that requires the role reversal.

As our loved ones’ age increases, we are faced with difficult decisions regarding their healthcare. One of the most challenging choices is deciding whether to pursue aggressive medical treatment or opt for hospice.

Understanding Treatment and Hospice

Before taking the leap into the decision-making process, it is important to understand what treatment and hospice entail.

  • Medical treatment: Medical treatment involves interventions aimed at curing or managing a specific health condition. It may include surgeries, chemo, medications, or other medical procedures.
  • Hospice Care: Hospice care is a specialized form of care designed for those with a terminal illness. Hospice care focuses on providing comfort, pain management, and emotional support rather than aggressive treatments. The goal of hospice is to enhance the patient’s quality of life in their final months.

Choosing Between Treatment and Hospice

Choosing between treatment and hospice has several factors to consider to help make the best choice. These can include:

  • Diagnosis and Prognosis – consult with medical professionals to fully understand your parent’s diagnosis and prognosis.
  • Quality of Life – consider your parent’s current quality of life and how different treatment options might affect it.
  • Personal Wishes – discuss the wishes of your parents regarding treatment and end-of-life care.
  • Benefits vs. Risks – weigh the potential benefits of treatments against associated risks and side effects.
  • Financial Considerations – assess the financial implications of treatment and hospice care. Speak with insurance providers and healthcare providers to understand the costs involved. Medicare pays 100%.

Determining the Right Time

Choosing the right time to transition from treatment to hospice care can be particularly challenging. Here are a few things to look for that may indicate the time to consider hospice care.

  • Declining Health – are you noticing your parent’s health is steadily declining despite aggressive treatment?
  • Multiple Hospital Visits – frequent hospital visits?
  • Pain and Discomfort – Is your loved one experiencing unmanageable pain or sever discomfort from their illness or treatment?

Considering End-of-Life Care

One important decision that you and your aging parents may have to make is when to move from pursuing treatment to hospice care. When someone enters into hospice, treatments for specific conditions are discontinued, and care becomes focused on comfort and quality of life. Discuss this option with your loved one so they can determine at what point they consider the transition.

The Takeaway

Watching our loved ones at the end of their lives can be devastating. It’s made worse by managing the details of it all. Partnering with hospice care provides assistance to guide you and your loved ones through their last days. Adult children who make the choice to utilize hospice care can receive peace of mind knowing that their loved one is receiving the care they need to be as comfortable as possible.