Discussing Difficult Medical Problems


Posted on: September 25th, 2020 by | No Comments

No matter how close a child is to his or her elderly parents, it can still be difficult to initiate a discussion about difficult medical problems. The topic could be uncomfortable or embarrassing for one or both parties, but starting the conversation is integral to everyone’s well-being. NewAldaya Lifescapes offers some thoughts on a successful approach. 

Put Yourself In Their Shoes

For an older parent, accepting help might be construed as a forfeit of privacy, not to mention the need to significantly alter their current daily routine. It’s common for the parent to express feelings of guilt and frustration over the notion that they’ve become a burden. Also, since many people won’t experience these feelings until late in life, anger is another emotion that might manifest. This could be born from suddenly feeling frightened and vulnerable for the first time in many years. 

Stubbornness is another normal reaction, especially in older people who think that accepting help is a sign of weakness. Or it’s possible that the parent has already noticed the onset of memory loss or diminishing mental health concerns and doesn’t want to admit that there’s a problem.

Tips For How To Approach About Medical Problems

Determine what form of help is needed: before approaching your loved one, take the time to assess what kind of help your loved one needs, and which services might work best. Tap into whatever resources you have at your disposal, including websites and your family physician. The more you know, the more confident you’ll be when talking with your parent. 

Enlist the help of family members and friends: taking on your relative’s difficult medical problems alone can be mentally draining, but don’t get discouraged. Instead, ask family and friends to join the conversation and provide their own opinions. If your loved one is being stubborn and persuasion is needed, having some trusted backup makes a big difference. And if your loved one is already a resident of NewAldaya Lifescapes and has bonded with one of our skilled nursing professionals, ask that person to contribute as well.

Consider your loved one’s preferences: Your loved one might voice a preference about which family member should lead the care process, or which care facility they’d like to receive treatment and support from. It’s important to carefully consider these requests and explore their feasibility. If your loved one has an existing medical condition that makes it hard for them to understand you, it’s a good idea to investigate their will or other end-of-life documents that may exist.

Timing Is everything: when you’re ready to initiate a conversation, pick a time at which you and your loved one are usually at your best. If the family member is a night owl, talk over dinner. If he’s a morning person, have breakfast together. You’ll find that the right time makes it much easier for you and your loved one to listen to each other and share thoughts.

NewAldaya Lifescapes Can Help

Broaching the subject of uncomfortable or embarrassing medical problems can be difficult for children and parents alike. It’s important to keep your loved one involved in care decisions and explain the benefits of care. If you’d like some advice on this subject, or just need a sounding board, our senior independent living staff is here to help.