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How to Have “The Talk” With Your Aging Parent

If you’ve been noticing the signs that your aging parent or parents are struggling to care for themselves, their home, or their pets, you might be trying to decide the best way to have “the talk” with them about incorporating extra care into their lives. As a child and caregiver, you want to be sure that your parents are protected from harm before a fall or accident occurs which could land them in the hospital… or worse. Your parent will no doubt want to be treated with dignity and respect and may want to still maintain some control over their life. Doing what’s right for your parents while maintaining their dignity can be a tricky line to cross especially if they show reluctance to seeking help or accepting change. To help you out we’ve laid out this simple strategy to navigating this challenging conversation.

 

Do Some Homework- You may feel like the matter is urgent but it’s important to take a little bit of time to do some research to find the best solution for your parent. Is in-home care an option or will they need to have the full attention that a senior care facility could provide? If they are staying in the home, are they capable of continuing to drive? What other underlying health issues do they have that could lead them to be unable to perform tasks like going up stairs, feeding and dressing themselves, or cooking? Is one parent able to adequately care for the other in an emergency? These questions will help guide you toward the ideal living solution for your parents. If you aren’t sure, reach out to a care provider or two and ask questions, they will be able to guide you in the right direction.

 

Plant The Seed- The best approach isn’t to jump right into the conversation but actually taking it in two or more parts. By introducing non-threatening, similar yet unrelated topics you can begin to gauge how your parent will react to the topic of adding supplemental care. Caring.com suggests asking questions such as:

“How’s the house? It must be difficult to keep the place in good shape.”

“How are you feeling lately? What did your doctor say at your last visit?”

“How’s the car? Are you still driving out to see your friend every week?”

 

If they seem receptive respond with answers such as:

“I can see why that would bother you. Let’s work together on a solution.”

“How can I help you”

 

From there the conversation can blossom into the more in-depth talk over time. If they are unreceptive try to avoid statements like “What were you thinking”, “You can’t just do that”, or “You need to ask for help”.  Remember that your parents are people too and they want to maintain their image just like you do. It makes some time and several repeat conversations to get them to come around but nurturing the discussion will always play out better than forcing them into something they don’t want to do.

 

Make Time for Conversation- While the preceding talk or talks can take place over the phone, it is best to have the actual discussion of bringing in a care provider in person. Be prepared that it may be emotional for all parties. If you have siblings maybe discuss beforehand having the sibling with the best relationship to the parent lead the way. If you’re on your own then consider partnering with a third party like a doctor, family-friend, or religious leader whom they feel they have a connection with, to help initiate the conversation with care. Whatever you do, if you’re involving multiple parties be sure your parent doesn’t feel ganged up on or they will likely dig their heels in deeper or resent you. Let them know that you’re acting out of love and concern for their physical and mental well-being and you will be there to support them through every step of the process.

During the conversation listen to their cues. Redirect rebuttals by first agreeing and empathizing with them before turning the conversation around. An example of this is to say “Yes, I understand your concern with ….  But on the other hand….”  

 

Let it Simmer- Remember that the decision to move a parent or bring in extra care is a huge and life changing decision. Don’t expect it to be made at the end of the conversation. Let them sit on it and explore their own feelings. You may find that a parent whose knee-jerk reaction was to shut down might come around to the idea on their own once they have time to think about it.
If you need guidance about the process of incorporating in-home care into your parent’s life PRN Home Healthcare’s caring and compassionate experts are available to answer any questions you may have. Call or click to reach out to us.

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