Approaching Difficult Conversations with Aging Parents

Posted on: May 24th, 2021 by | No Comments

As our parents age, a profound role reversal occurs. The people who were once our caregivers become increasingly reliant on us for their well-being. This transition can be difficult for both parties, especially when discussing complex topics like assisted living and dementia. NewAldaya Lifescapes, one of the most respected senior retirement communities in Iowa, has plenty of experience in this area. Here we’ll share some thoughts on how to maximize respect and minimize frustration.

Plan Ahead

Regardless of the topic, it’s a good idea to plan how you’re going to approach the subject before bringing it up. Taking the time to consider how the situation looks from your loved one’s point of view will ease any fears they might have of losing control. Also, make sure your expectations are realistic. Don’t assume that one discussion will neatly resolve the matter, so go into the conversation knowing that the initial talk will be more of a preliminary discussion – a means of putting the issue out on the table so it can then be dealt with more candidly. Lastly, plan your discussion for a quiet time of day when you and your parents are most at ease. The discussion will be far easier when you’re both relaxed and rested, with no looming deadlines or commitments.

Starting the Conversation

When you introduce the subject, try to avoid coming on too strong or you’ll set the discussion off on the wrong foot. For example, you may feel a keen sense of urgency to stop your aging parent from driving, but if you start the conversation by saying, “You need to stop driving because you’re going to kill someone!” chances are the person will get angry and stubborn and tune you out. The thing is, if you’ve noticed that a loved one’s driving has grown erratic and sloppy, or that their memory is failing, chances are they’re probably aware of it too. So the best approach is to initiate the discussion with a question–for example, if the topic is driving and you know that your parent has recently received a traffic ticket or two, ask him about it and then follow up with another question such as, “How are you doing with your driving? Are you finding it a little difficult to manage?” Then let the conversation progress from there.

Allow Space for a Long Conversation

When reflecting on important topics affecting your aging loved one’s life, don’t be surprised if they begin to talk about the past. He may reminisce about a family vacation to the Grand Canyon or the summer job that helped him buy his first car. Resist the temptation to interrupt and get them back on track, and instead encourage these reminiscences by asking questions or even requesting to see photos. Sifting through memories will help him come to terms with his life transition and allow him to gradually accept the fact that he’ll need to cede some responsibilities to you and other caregivers at our senior independent living center.

Talk with NewAldaya Lifescapes Today

We hope the insights provided here are helpful as you prepare for the important conversations that lie ahead with your aging parents. For more advice on communicating with elderly loved ones, as well as information on extended care and memory care near Cedar Falls, talk today with the professionals NewAldaya Lifescapes.