Once you’ve gone through the process of determining whether your aging parents need care, what next?
5 Five Tips for Conversation with Aging Parents
- Begin the Conversation. This can be a hard conversation. Allow your loved one time to absorb and digest the idea of getting help – if the need for help is not critical or urgent. It is unlikely that everything will be settled in one conversation. Consider it an ongoing dialog.
- Understand Common Objections. Dad may have strong feelings about losing independence. Mom may be uncomfortable with someone coming into her home and taking over chores she’s done for decades. There can be a lot of objections to overcome. Six Common Objections to Hiring a Caregiver names and addresses six of the top objections.
- Acknowledge Feelings. Recognize and acknowledge feelings that come up during these conversations. Allow a voicing of feelings, concerns, thoughts, and questions. Hear everyone out, listen, acknowledge, and empathize.
- Be Mindful of Your Words. This conversation may be emotionally charged. Keep calm and stay on subject. Be mindful of the words you use. Some are much more emotionally charged than others. Having calm and clear conversations can help avoid hurt feelings, anger, and resentment.
- Start Researching Options. Learn all you can about resources for seniors. See if your state has a Division of Aging and Adult Services. Visit the National Council on Aging and AARP. PBS has an excellent webpage, Caring for Your Parents. It includes a video, tip sheets, checklists, questionnaires, and recommended readings.
Talking with our parents about getting help can be emotional and difficult. Just thinking about it makes my blood pressure go up a bit. If their needs are not critical, take advantage of the gift of time you’ve been given and start talking now. That way, both you and your parents can have a chance to warm up to the idea and perhaps lessen the chance of heated conversations.
Begin the conversation, a little bit at a time. Look at it as an opportunity to help your parents take the reigns and make safe and informed choices about their future.