Mom, Dad...Can We Talk?

Helping Our Aging Parents with the Insight and Wisdom of Others

Non-Fiction - Social Issues
142 Pages
Reviewed on 02/17/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Vernita Naylor for Readers' Favorite

In life, they say that there are two absolutes, death and taxes, but let's add another one, aging. In today's culture, people are living longer and very heavy decisions must be made about the care and well-being of our loved ones, particularly our parents. In the revised edition of Mom, Dad...Can We Talk: Helping Our Aging Parents with the Insight and Wisdom of Others by Dick Edwards, the reader will experience the nuances of dealing with aging parents and the challenges that adult children and families face during this transition. This book displays the push-pull relationship between parent and child that has now been reversed, which at times can be frustrating and scary if you're not prepared. In this book, you will learn the importance of talking about the changes that will occur 'before' it occurs with not only your family but with your parents. This book offers several self-help approaches from scenarios to questions to gauge your awareness and preparedness and to create a safe space for openness and transparency.

I am a fan of this book because this has been a constant in my family. We were able to navigate through the trials by error and were able to get better and better at caring for our aging parents and loved ones. Dick, through his vast experience in this field, helps us to see this journey through three acts. "Imagine you and your family are starring in a three-act play." Act 1 is your growing up years, Act 2 is your young adult years and Act 3 reflects middle age. Life happens before you know it. How did you live it? How did you treat others? As Dick states, the importance of cherishing those special moments is essential especially during this pandemic from finding ways to let those that we love and care for know that they're loved and thought of to putting yourself in their shoes and seeing through the eyes of your elder, which will help us to find better ways to have empathy, compassion and take time for each other. Mom, Dad...Can We Talk includes a discussion guide that will give you everything you need to get started. As Dick says, "Now, put this book down. Call your parents and your siblings, and start the conversations. You’ll be glad you did." Highly recommended.

Patricia Reding

Mom, Dad . . . Can We Talk? by Dick Edwards is a resource for those whose parents are aging—but in truth, it is so much more than that. In it, Edwards approaches his subject by touching on everything from family dynamics, to planning ahead, to leading by example, to listening carefully, to maintaining respect for your parents even when your role with them may seem exactly opposite from days of old. Of course, the standard issues, such as finances and healthcare decisions, are addressed. But in the course of these discussions, Edwards shares a great deal of information about how siblings can best work together so that everyone has a role in caring for their aging parents.

A few years back, my father passed. My sisters and I helped our mother as he had passed through his last years and then as she was faced with newfound loneliness following his passing. In the past couple of years, we have addressed new issues for and with her, including our “taking the keys.” Most recently, we have been faced with advanced dementia and depression—in the age of Covid. I sometimes tease that while my mother raised eight of us, it takes all eight of us to see to her current care. But that is not entirely in jest. There was a season when my sisters and I were all scheduled so that someone would call her each hour of the day, as at 89 years old, she struggled with loneliness during Covid. It seems we stumbled along some of the principles that Dick Edwards offers in Mom, Dad . . . Can We Talk? along our way, quite by accident.

Fortunately, we have managed to get through these times while maintaining good relationships between ourselves. But had we known of this guide early on, we could have made very good use of it indeed. Now, I feel better able to begin my discussions with my own children. For their benefit, I intend to provide each of them with a copy of Mom, Dad . . . Can We Talk? As my siblings and I will soon complete our time caring for our aging parents, I will have the assurance that with the assistance of Dick Edwards, my children—the next generation—will be superbly equipped when their time comes.

Jamie Michele

Mom, Dad...Can We Talk? Helping Our Aging Parents with the Insight and Wisdom of Others by Dick Edwards is a non-fiction self-help guide on having the conversations we need to have with the older members of our families but few seem to do. Edwards, a retired eldercare specialist who worked with the famed Mayo Clinic, addresses areas of common disconnect and assists in laying the foundation for meaningful dialogue. The book begins with lessons on listening and tossing out assumptions, the natural evolution of roles within a family, and addressing needs by thinking about how they may be met, and by whom. The book then dives into deeper scenarios such as mental health, cognitive and reasoning capability before it transitions to the loss of one parent, which often highlights how much we don't know about the surviving mother or father. Finally, Edwards addresses issues of further isolation and loss, parents who aren't receptive, and the final farewell as they leave the stage.

It's said that strength lies in differences, not in similarities, right? The same applies to families, who have such wide-ranging dynamics that not everyone is going to have the same level of comfort or even the same common ground as any number of players in this phase of life. Dick Edwards approaches many, many scenarios and sprinkles stories that will make readers feel understood, and even—the shock of all shocks—elicit a laugh in Mom, Dad...Can We Talk? My mother did not make it to the third act of life but both of my grandmothers have, something many on the older side of act two don't often experience. Imagine my surprise when one grandmother decided to finally learn how to swim as she approached 90 after losing my grandfather, and the other introduced me to not just one, but two gentlemen she had dates with on Friday, and then Saturday evening. There is a profound honesty that Edwards lets bubble up to the surface, and it allows us to see not just the strength and ability of ourselves to have seemingly difficult conversations, but also predicts that we might not be giving our parents enough credit to have them with us. I think this a wonderful book that has something for everyone and I'm so happy to have found it now.