When her parents decided to move to an apartment, Brown was confrontational. “I raised my voice and said, ‘This is not good, this is terrible,’ ” she said. “They were shocked, but they said ‘It doesn’t matter; this is what we’re going to do.’ ”
Brown realized she thought her parents would be safer and have a more “gentle” death in the retirement community: “Then it occurred to me: This wasn’t what my parents wanted. They valued their independence. It’s their decision about how the end of life plays out.”
Brown let her parents know she’d respect their wishes but would need to set limits. Her work — Brown is the founder of www.CareGiving.com — had to be a priority, and her parents would need to arrange other assistance if she couldn’t be available. (Brown’s two brothers and sister help out.) And they’d have to be willing to talk openly about how their choices were affecting her.
What doesn’t work: trying to communicate when any one of them is tired or angry. “We never get anywhere,” Brown said. “Everybody gets defensive and shuts down.”
What does work: “asking them questions like how do you think we should try to solve this problem? It’s interesting to hear their answers, and it makes working together so much easier.”