As your parents get older, it’s natural to worry about their well-being. But how do you start a conversation about your concerns without setting off Mom or Dad’s alarm bells?
I hear these stories all the time. One anxious son wants his mom to move her bedroom to the first floor of her house to minimize the risk of falling. A concerned daughter would like her dad to allow one of his willing relatives or neighbors to drive him to the supermarket. But when these adult children try to broach the subject, Mom thinks her son is trying to ruin her life and Dad’s first reaction is to hide the keys.
When we put ourselves in the shoes of a senior, it’s not hard to see where these reactions are coming from. It’s easy to feel threatened by subjects like this because they imply giving up one’s independence.
So how do we start a productive conversation about our elderly care concerns without picking a fight?
Our technique for starting critical conversations
We’ve developed some techniques for initiating and conducting these critical conversations, based on the principles of inclusion and choice. The key is to avoid asking yes-or-no questions, and to focus on how your loved one can keep their treasured independence for as long as possible.
The ultimate goal is to get to one key question:
“Have you thought about what you’ll do when that’s not as easy anymore?”
It’s a simple enough question, but the effects it has in a conversation can be profound: “Have you thought about what you’ll do when that’s not as easy anymore?”
Consider these two scenarios.
Concerned adult child: You really need to move to the first floor. What will happen if you fall one of these days?
Parent: You worry too much!
Concerned adult child: I know you’re doing fine on the stairs right now, but have you thought about what you’ll do when that’s not as easy anymore?
Ideally you’ll have this conversation well before there’s an immediate need for intervention.
For help in leading a discussion toward this one simple question, download our free “Eight Ways to Start the Conversation” guide. You can also reach out to your local Home Helpers office for personalized assistance.