10 tips to help you have "the talk" with aging parents

Get your loved ones the care they need

Your parents loved you, raised you and helped you with everything from scraped knees and your first heartbreak to when you had kids of your own. Now, as your parents age, they need more care from you than ever. The once quick, lively parent you knew has gotten forgetful and you are worried about their well-being. 

Concern about your loved one’s daily safety and comfort may be overwhelming at times. The subject can be difficult to broach, and you may not feel comfortable initiating a conversation about it.

Here are ten tips to help you avoid communication barriers and have the conversation that will help your parents.

1. Get the facts
Make sure you understand everything about your loved one’s conditions, health and situation. Make note of changes you see. Learn about medications and attend a doctor appointment where you can learn exactly what is going on.

2. Should you be concerned?
Perhaps you’ve found unpaid bills or spoiled food in the refrigerator, or you sense a decline in your loved one’s condition but are not sure whether your concerns are valid. Observe your parent. If you are concerned about their safety, go with your instincts.

3. Avoid personal biases
Remember that assumptions about your loved one’s well-being can make things worse. There may be personal feelings involved but this conversation shouldn’t be about judgement.

READ MORE: How to cope when you are caring for your children and your parents

4. Get other family involved
Talk to your siblings to get all of the information out there. Your parent may have shared different information with each of you and it is important to get everything straight.

5. Make a plan
Get yourself organized and set realistic goals for the conversation. Decide who will lead the discussion and pick a setting that is comfortable for everyone.

6. Keep it positive
Express love and concern and listen without giving advice.

7. Focus on communicating effectively
Even though you are family, the way you communicate is very different. Remind everyone involved that each of you wants to be heard. The goal should always be the safety of your elderly loved one.

8. Understand that you might not have all of the information
You may be concerned with your parent’s safety while they may be concerned with maintaining independence. Your loved one may fear abandonment or being placed in a facility. Make your intentions clear to minimize unwarranted fear.

READ MORE: Stories from local parents who have joined the "sandwich generation"

9. This isn't an ambush
An ambush can be off-putting, and misunderstandings can occur. Plan carefully about how your loved one will perceive the conversation and include them in the plans if possible. You do not want them to feel that you are going behind their back.

10. What is the next step if the answer is "no"?
Try to maintain your focus on what you want to achieve and stay open to possibilities. Don’t become discouraged and prepare to take a step back and try again.

The goal should always be the well-being of your loved one. They cared for you and now it is your turn to get the right care for them. 

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your loved one contact Scott Teresi, President, Right at Home for a free consultation.  Email - scott@rahhv.com  Office- (845) 762-5557