The Role Reversal…Are you Prepared For The Shift?

By: Jackie Warner

You just start to understand who you are and the purpose you were meant for in this life, and then there comes another shift in your ideas and expectations for it.

This article is truly a tough one to write. We are given tools as a child to use for our future success. We are bathed, clothed, nurtured, and loved from the infant stages to adulthood by our parents, grandparents, and guardians. My question to you is “How did you use it for your life today?”

When I am speaking at youth group events, I often share statements with students as a way to encourage them to think beyond the present and look at what it will take to live tomorrow. One thing I say to them is: “It is what you do today that will determine how you live tomorrow. So if you want to live well, you have to start making the right choices today.” As I continue my presentation, I share with the students that one day there will be a role reversal, and I ask them if they will truly be prepared to handle it.

The role reversal I speak of is when parents are the ones that now have to be taken care of. I go on to ask the students if they will be prepared to take care of aging, elderly parents. Fast forward to 2018, and now I ask you, my audience, “Did you prepare for the role reversal?” It is not easy seeing our parents age and need care and assistance, for it is difficult to see them start to fade, become frail, and sometimes helpless when it comes to their normal day-to-day routine. It becomes an emotional roller coaster for both you and your parent when the shift starts to happen. You start to ask yourself: “How do I do this; am I mentally prepared, not to mention financially stable enough, to handle what may come next.

What physical and emotional support will be required? It is not an easy path to navigate; so if you have not started preparation then start now.

1. Remember you are still the child and they are the parent – Dignity and respect are key
2. Understand that your parents are having a mind shift too, and this may be very upsetting and take time to absorb
3. Be proactive: Talk to your parents about their wishes and needs
4. Have a serious conversation about finances, real estate, and business documentation
5. Keep your parent involved in any health and financial decisions to be made
6. Know what options should be discussed, such as home health care, long-term nursing care, powers of attorney documents, and end-of-life wishes
7. Research and ask questions about available resources to help you navigate