Your parents sat you down for Big Talks countless times growing up, but those words never lost their zing. Imagine the jolt when you turn the tables on your elderly parents and sit them down to discuss their need for assistive care.
It’s uncomfortable, but aging parents need your help securing living arrangements that meet their changing physical, mental, and emotional needs, whether they admit it or not. Take the following steps to create an open dialogue that initiates change:
- Be proactive. Start discussing alternative care naturally, using a friend’s illness or a story in the newspaper as a catalyst. Through frequent discussion, you’ll prime your parents for a more pointed talk about their personal care and launch dialogue before an accident.
- Make it a family affair. Before you have a formal discussion with your parents, sit down with your siblings and influential family members to establish goals and create a unified message. It’ll help prevent scattered, confusing advice and scapegoating family members who defend the hard truth.
- Make it known why you’re speaking. A vague “I’m worried about your safety” won’t bear as much weight as it would should you point out specific points of concern. Address issues you’ve observed and recall questions they’ve had in the past.
- Frame it in your favor. Telling your parents they need to do this or that sounds more like a command than a conversation, and they’ll likely react defensively. Instead, try framing it as a problem on your shoulders, not theirs: “I’m concerned about you, Dad; it makes me nervous to see you going up and down those steep stairs.” Be their advocate, not their authority.
- Bring options to the table. An assisted living facility doesn’t need to be the first step. A few home modifications or a routine visit from a trained caregiver might suffice initially. Options – and their price estimates – can help conversation progress.
- Listen, listen, listen. Your parents aren’t protesting for the fun of it. When they refuse to consider assistive devices, what are they truly denying? Is it a fear of a loss of independence? Do they fear that you’ve given up on them? Encourage them to speak, and ask just as many questions of them as they’ll have for you.
- Prepare to table the discussion. They’ll need time to digest what you’ve proposed and seek their own options as well. If you notice they’re putting up walls or getting flustered, pause the conversation for the day with the explicit promise to return to it in the near future.
Our team at Johns Hopkins Home Care Group understands the struggles of a shifting parent-child dynamic, and we’re here to offer assistance. Our home medical equipment selection, as well as our home health and home support (private duty) teams can provide solutions you and your parents trust.