It can be hard to discuss sensitive topics with your aging parents, especially when it involves changing their lifestyle or living environment. Whether the discussion involves relocating, giving up driving, or hiring in-home assistance, knowing how to bring up the conversation is half of the battle. Often times, aging parents tend to be resistant to the fact that they need extra help managing their health or household, because to them, it signifies a loss of independence. While it is easy for some adult children to have these types of open conversations with their parents, not all situations are the same.
- Do Your Homework – Ultimately your goal is to offer a solution to your parents’, or yours as a caregiver, current situation. Before bringing up a sensitive topic, it is best to be as informed as possible, from all angles of the discussion. Discover the options and local care resources that are available to benefit your parents’ situation. Being prepared with researched suggestions will only drive your conversation to a better outcome. Try to take clear notes from the conversation to have record of your discussion and resolution; this also avoids having to have it more than once.
- Involve Other Family Members/Siblings – Discuss any concerns and observations with family members or your siblings. Also, invite them to be a part of any future discussions; uneasy conversations tend to go smoother and are less stressful when more than one person is involved. It helps take the burden off of one’s shoulder while allowing more conversation and opinions to be expressed. Certain family members may also have a less aggressive approach when speaking on the specific topic.
- Allow Your Parent to Speak – It is important to be understanding of your parents’ feelings and opinions on the conversation, after all, they are the ones making an adjustment. Allow them to speak their mind and offer suggestions as well, coming up with a well thought-out plan agreed upon by both parties will make the transition a lot smoother. This also allows them, if need be, to express any concerns they might have to what’s to be of their new “normal.” You also want them to be comfortable opening up to you now and further down the road when and if issues arise.
- Choose the Right Conditions – Be sure to pick the right place and time for the conversation to occur. Make sure the environment is comfortable, private, relaxed and won’t attract unwanted attention if it doesn’t go as planned. Try avoiding places like restaurants, public settings, family gatherings, social events, etc. Sometimes the comfort of their own home, or yours, is the best location. Also, choosing to have a mediator during the conversation could be beneficial as well.
- Don’t ignore Body Language – If at any time during the conversation you notice your parents’ giving off an uneasy or irritable expression, consider holding it off for another day. Timing is everything. If the issue needs immediate attention during an unfortunately difficult time, try to attempt different approaches. Using empathetic language could also be of assistance when discussing their personal and health choices.
FSL Can Offer Assistance
At FSL, we understand that clear communication can come with its own barriers, we’re here to offer assistance to you and your family whenever you need it. FSL’s Care by Design private care management can help families discover options and have difficult conversations. Call 602-285-1800 or visit the website for more information.