Talking to your beloved parents about aging is just plain hard! These days, you’re filling a leadership or guidance role in your aging parents’ lives. This role reversal brings several challenges, including bringing up difficult aging issues. These serious conversations may also bring lots of mixed emotions with them — for you and your aging parents.
You aren’t alone. These are just some of the most difficult aging topics family members may need to discuss with aging loved ones:
- Advance Health Care Directives
- Trusts and Wills
- Hiring Help
So, how exactly do you talk to your aging parents about difficult topics like these?
Always put yourself inside your parents’ shoes before having difficult conversations. For example, while you’re noticing possible safety issues, your aging parents may feel like you’re just being bossy and controlling over mere “senior moments”. They may fight any feedback for change since they’re afraid that any slight loss of freedom may mean they’ll lose all of their independence.
Be Clear and Calm
Start uncomfortable conversations clearly and calmly. Don’t treat your parent like a child with no input. Choose your words carefully, but the tone of voice you use may express much more than any single word you utter.
Things can get especially tense and heated depending on if you have personalities that clash, or your parents are more difficult to reach lately due to cognitive and/or physical decline. Aging parents may take offense to some — or even all — of your feedback. You may just need to step back from a heated conversation and begin it again at another time.
According to Ujjwala Dheeriya, MD, Medical Director and Outpatient Physician for Torrance Memorial Medical Center’s Palliative Care Program, “It’s all about conversational tools. Ask people where they are at for that particular issue. And then ask if it’s okay to give your opinion. If given an opinion without asking first, people are more likely to be defensive. This way, they’re much more likely to hear what you have to say.”
Have Many Conversations Early
Having conversations before a major health incident or accident even occurs is preferable. In an article from Caring.com, Lisa Owens, RN, recommends that you: “Explain that the reason for the discussions is to ensure they can be as healthy and independent as possible, for as long as possible. And preparation is key — have a plan that enables you to stay as healthy as possible, rather than being unprepared when problems arise.”
Invite another family member or trusted family friend to participate in difficult conversations, too. Inviting the entire family may seem like an intervention of sorts, humiliating or infuriating your parents. But having someone else present to help listen and mediate is a good idea.
Change the Scenery
Stressors can melt away with a change of location. If possible, go outside in Palos Verde Peninsula’s gorgeous weather. Fresh air and sunshine may help lighten everyone’s mood during heavy-hearted discussions. Also, in a neutral space with other people in the vicinity, you’ll likely stay on topic and argue less.
Dealing with serious aging topics is difficult for parents and children. You’ll have some extraordinarily challenging conversations. According to GrayingWithGrace.com, “Sometimes it is difficult. There will be days you just don’t want to deal with it. But try to persevere through it and be the bigger person. One day, you may not have the chance…”
When you’re looking for senior care in Palos Verdes (live-in, part-time, respite, or regular transportation), A Peaceful Way Home Care can assist with keeping your aging parents independent in their home.