As our parents age, it becomes apparent that some role reversal is at play. We now feel the duty of care to look after our folks and may have to take over a caregiver role. Having difficult conversations is a part of life, we know. But still, it’s easy to drag your feet and try to dance around topics like moving to a senior care facility, giving up driving the car, eating better and staying safe. There’s always the balance of health and safety, weighed against Mom’s or Dad’s dignity, independence and happiness. Today, we look at some ideas around starting and holding these sensitive conversations with your parents.
Respect The Process
By process, we mean that most conversations, especially those around major topics, will be a series of talks, and not just one single talk. Your best strategy is not to get attached to the outcome, especially in the first discussion. Understand that some ideas may take a while to convince your parents to see your point of view. Sometimes they may see your point of view but disagree with it. It may take several tries and some compromises before the issue is resolved, or until the two of you agree to revisit it later.
Timing Is Everything
Think about presenting the topic at the right time and place, if possible. If your loved one is suffering from memory problems or dementia, earlier in the day may be best to hold a conversation. Don’t be rushed; take your time and make your point. You can’t afford to lose your patience!
Listen More Than You Talk
Do you know the old saying about having two ears and one mouth? It’s true. When talking to your folks about senior choices and decisions, they need to be heard. Respect their point of view if you want yours to be considered. Show empathy and realize that this is difficult for them too. Listening to someone builds up their self-esteem and increases their trust in you. Don’t miss the opportunity to improve the relationship while having this conversation.
Speak in a calm tone, and don’t use forceful language. You have a better chance to be heard when you follow this advice!
Call For Reinforcements – Ask For Help From Your Siblings!
Involving other family members in the discussion can be useful, but you must be careful and considerate. Avoid creating an atmosphere where it’s easy for your parents to feel like you are ganging up on them. Having some help does prevent a “me against you” scenario. Sometimes, it’s necessary to hear the same message from another messenger for it to sink in.
Be Prepared To Offer Options
Do your homework and bring options to the conversation. Instead of saying “you can’t live at home anymore,” present options to your parents. Maybe they can have help to look after them, in either a companion or caregiver capacity. If driving is the issue, talk about driving at night, and go for the compromise.
Remember these tips as you start a difficult conversation. Go slow, relax and be patient. You probably won’t get it in one meeting!
Call For Help
Lean on Dee Senior Care Advocates can help you with some of the difficulties of caring for your senior family members. Visit www.leanondee.com and learn more about how they help seniors and their families with decisions and navigating the senior care system.