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How to Have Difficult Conversations with Aging Parents

How to Have Difficult Conversations with Aging Parents

Our parents often need extra help as they age. While they may be quick to resist the extra attention regarding their personal matters, it’s critical to work with them to ensure they are prioritizing their future health and well-being. This transition from child to caregiver is not easy and means that at some point in the future, you are likely going to have difficult conversations about their finances, health, and ability to take care of everything on their own. 

These types of conversations are especially difficult for aging adults because, to them, it may signify a loss of autonomy or independence. They may deny your suggestions for a wide array of reasons as they don’t want to give up critical decision-making opportunities. Let’s take a look at a few ways to approach difficult conversations with your aging parents and what you can do to support them during this time. 

How to Convince an Elderly Parent They Need Help 

Encouraging your elderly parent to seek the help they need can feel daunting. While they may be resistant to your initial efforts, there are ways to help them open up about getting help. Keep the following strategies in mind as you encourage your parent. 

Start Early 

As your parents age, their health and well-being have the potential to take a turn quickly. It’s important to be proactive about addressing any concerns regarding health, finances, and their ability to take care of themselves – allowing you to approach difficult topics with your parents when they are rested and relaxed. This will make it easier to explore difficult topics and determine the right course of action without having to worry about any ongoing emergencies. 

When considering how early to start discussions with your parents, you should consider their age, activity level, and overall physical health. While some might recommend starting conversations when your parents enter their 70s, we recommend starting conversations when your parents are as young as 50. Certain health conditions can spring up at any time, so it’s critical to ensure they are ready to seek professional help when the need arises. 

Plan Ahead 

Determine the proper time and place where your parents will be most receptive to discussing their age-related needs. Whether that’s in the living room or out at a private lunch, it’s best to determine a place where they will be comfortable and relaxed. As these conversations involve sensitive subject matters, we recommend you host the discussion in a private environment where your parents can feel comfortable and at ease.  

During your planning, do note that you may not be the only person who has to convince your elderly parents to get help. Family members and close friends can also assist you with these important endeavors. Having multiple perspectives from loved ones can eventually make even the most stubborn of parents relent and receive help. We recommend planning out your goals and strategy as a group before approaching your parents so you can keep your conversation productive and on track. It is also recommended to not overwhelm your parents with too many family members or friends as to not make the conversation feel like an ambush or intervention. 

Communicate with Empathy 

This is a sensitive time in your parents’ lives. A little empathy and positivity can go a long way toward convincing them to seek the help they need. Make sure that your aging parents know that your requests come from a good place and that you want them to be as happy and healthy as possible. That compassion can make it easier for your loved ones to accept the situation and make choices based on their quality of life. 

Be an Active Listener 

When having difficult conversations, don’t forget to really listen to your parents. Use this opportunity to understand their point of view and what their needs are. This can help you find the tools and resources that can improve their current quality of life. Be sure to understand how they are feeling and offer helpful suggestions after they’ve had an opportunity to share. Active listening is crucial to having a meaningful conversation – especially regarding such sensitive subjects. 

Avoid Pressuring Your Parent 

People of all ages generally don’t like being forced into something. Try and give your loved ones plenty of options to give them more agency in these important decisions. Lay out different assisted living options so that your parents know they have a choice and feel like their input matters. 

Your objective should be to create a comfortable environment with your parents during these sensitive conversations. It’s crucial to present your points without using forceful language so that when you want to suggest a change, your parents will be more receptive. Gentle conversations are more likely to provide better results than attempting to force your parents into new habits or new ways of thinking. 

Understand it can Take Time 

Sometimes there’s only so much that you can do to convince your loved one they need help. Whether they are stuck in their ways or fear losing autonomy, it’s important to keep trying even if your attempts don’t seem to work. Your loved ones’ position may change over time, so don’t stress yourself out too much. Make sure to take some mental health breaks and seek outside help. 

Don’t Hesitate to Seek Help 

Turning to the professionals can be particularly helpful – especially if your loved one is resisting the critical care they need. Physicians, social workers, and other experts can help showcase just how important it is to get help. Developing this support system will not only lend voices to your cause but also show your parents how much their health matters. 

If your elderly parent needs help finding the right senior primary care providers who are experienced with having difficult conversations, you can turn to SeniorSelect. SeniorSelect offers a wide array of senior healthcare services in a comforting environment. Our holistic approach to senior care and commitment to quality goes beyond that of a traditional primary care office. Don’t wait to get the healthcare you deserve, schedule a tour or give us a call at 614-741-8285 to speak with one of our exceptional team members today. 

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