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How to talk to elderly parents about tough topics

How to talk to elderly parents about assisted living

There might come a time when you realize that you need to have some important discussions with your aging mom and dad. Get tips below on how to talk to elderly parents about tough topics like incontinence, money, and assisted living.

Why have these conversations?

The conversations are awkward, so why have them? The dialogue needs to take place so that everyone knows what is expected of them, and how to move forward in the best way.

These important issues will include specifics over healthcare, including the option of you becoming a PCS if required, life insurance, finances, property, their will, and much, much more.

The problem is, although these subjects are hugely important, and not talking about them can lead to big problems later on, having those discussions isn’t usually easy. It can be hard to bring it up in the first place, let alone have a sensible, unemotional talk about what to do and when.

Knowing how to speak with older parents or other relatives about the future is a skill that you can get better at, with time and practice. It is important know how to talk to elderly parents about tough topics to discuss the various options for living arrangements, money, and independence.

The discourse is most effective when it happens in a measured, thoughtful way. Read on to find out how to do so.

How to talk to elderly parents: Have empathy

The best way to begin this kind of potentially awkward discussion is to have empathy with the senior. To communicate effectively, begin by putting yourself in their position.

Doing so can help you understand why the topic might be a hard one to start with. The reasons your mother or father do not want to talk about future plans might include:

  • Fear of death and illness
  • Worries about losing independence
  • Losing control
  • Mobility problems
  • Pride – They might not want their children to have to care for them
  • Their world as they know it is changing

If you had to contend with these things, you would be anxious too. So, be gentle when starting the discussion, and you will likely find that it is easier.

It is also likely hard for them to talk about issues with daily care activities like going to the bathroom. So, be sensitive when it comes to how to talk to elderly parents about incontinence and respect that they will probably feel embarrassed.

Make sure you involve them

This one might seem like a given when it comes to how to talk to elderly parents about assisted living and other topics that have them at the center. But, it’s not.

Simply going to an older parent with a list of things for them to do, or that you intend to do on their behalf, is not fair. It shows that you haven’t considered them at all.

They didn’t factor into your decision-making process. Even if their health and happiness was at the heart of your decision.

It’s critical that you include the elderly person in any decision that involves them. That may make things more difficult for you, yes. But, it is much better for them, and that’s what is most important here. That’s why you’re making these decisions and having these discussions in the first place.

Be flexible about how to talk with elderly parents

You might have an entire plan in your head as to how you see your parent’s old age playing out. That doesn’t mean it’s the same idea that your parent has, of course.

They might have an entirely different plan for what they want to do as they get older.

This is why you benefit by being flexible. Your research and ideas will only be useful if your mom or dad agrees with your way of thinking. After all, they are at the center of it.

If they disagree, you may be able to come to a compromise if you can be flexible with your thoughts about what happens in the future. Alternatively, by listening to what your parent wants, you might discover new ideas that work better than yours.

10 thoughts on “How to talk to elderly parents about tough topics”

  1. Parents used to changed kids’ pampers, and consoling kids about going to kindergarten. Will reversed roles be more challenging? Kids becomes more mature when their parents get older, and some, second childhood…

  2. Great read! And something I really needed. My parents are getting older and need more help than ever. But they are stubborn and will not take our advice. We typically will only give advice about things that put them in danger.

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