The talk. You know you need to have it.
You notice your parents aren't able to keep up with some elements of their lifestyle any more. You see crisis in other families, and you worry about not knowing what to do for yours. Yet your parents won't budge. They won't listen to suggestions about lifestyle changes they desperately need to make.
How do you get through to them?
It never hurts to talk about potential issues before they arise. It's not easy. But starting early gives you lead time to choose your words, to consider all your options, to work out differences, and to set everything in order as much as you can. Should something happen, you aren't trapped making rushed decisions. And it's not just about them. Their financial decisions could impact you, especially if they have things like a reverse mortgage which could fall on your shoulders.
It helps to have everyone on the same page. A careless comment by a sibling can undermine your carefully explained concerns about Mom and Dad's finances. If you don't have siblings you can rely on, talk to other relatives instead, or even contact good friends of your parents. A united front helps your cause, and your parents might listen to advice from other they wouldn't take from their children.
When your stubborn aunt needs 15 minutes to walk up her front stairs but still won't consider building a ramp, or your uncle won't give up his car keys despite blurred vision, another lecture won't help them. Even downsizing can start a battle. Having others sit down with you to gently lay out everyone's concerns could help you get your point across in an atmosphere of caring and understanding.
Perhaps the issue revolves around a home health aide, the idea of a stranger in their home. Maybe your mom or dad could meet the aide before they start working in the home. If you're vetting the aides, try to assess their personalities and find one to match the family. Keep your parent looped into the process and make it clear you're trying to meet their needs and keep everyone as happy as possible.
No doctor wants to see their patient in an unsafe environment. You could talk to your parents' doctors, or perhaps accompany them to an appointment and broach your concerns there. A parent may not listen to you because you are not an expert -- but a doctor is. And if he or she can explain reasonable concerns about safety issues, it can break through the reluctance.
Your parents never stop serving as role models. Let them know how their behavior remains a lesson to you. For tough financial talks, remind them how you, the child, will have to pick up any pieces they don't plan for in advance. You don't have to lay it on thick. We're not advocating the kind of guilt to make a therapist buckle. Just remember sometimes, appealing to the heart trumps appealing to logic.
These are your parents, after all.