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assisted living October 31, 2016

Nine tips for communicating with parents in their senior living years

By: Country Meadows | Uncategorized

As children, our parents took care of us. As adults, we may now find ourselves caring for them. The dynamics of this gradually reversing relationship between parent and child can be awkward and, at times, uncomfortable.

Steven Zarit, a professor of human development and family studies at Penn State, says that many older persons face a struggle for independence as they try to maintain their lifestyle. At the same time, their adult children begin expressing concerns about physical or mental changes they see. The results are often that 1) parents feel their children overstep their bounds, 2) children may feel their parents are stubborn and 3) everyone is uncomfortable with this new reality.

That’s why open communications with senior parents is so important. Even so, some conversations with those we love, particularly our parents, can be difficult and challenging. Whether they’re living in their private residence or at a senior community (for example, independent living or personal care/assisted living), here are nine communication tips from Country Meadows Retirement Communities:

  1. Talk with your parents often. Ongoing communications help to foster a good relationship.
  2. If you have a difficult issue to raise, don’t put it off. Begin the discussion as soon as possible because it could continue off and on for months.
  3. Be open and honest without being negative. If you have any concerns, be specific and use examples.
  4. Be sensitive and respectful. Try to understand why their viewpoint may be different from yours.
  5. Be supportive. If they’re having a problem, assure them that you share their concern and will work with them to solve it.
  6. Don’t tell them what to do or speak down to them. Discuss their ideas and your ideas together.
  7. Speak clearly in order to be understood. If they have hearing issues, meet in a quiet environment.
  8. Listen closely to what they say. Also try to pick up on subjects they may be avoiding.
  9. Don’t have difficult conversations during times of stress. They will think more clearly and positively when they’re calm.

Guidance from our Tips Library

For additional guidance, consult our Tips Library on 17 specific issues that we regularly discuss with seniors and their families. In addition, feel free to order our publication, “Talking About Touchy Topics With Your Aging Parents,” where you can find advice on issues including managing finances, stopping driving, getting in-home care and downsizing to a retirement home. In the guide, you’ll find examples of what NOT to say to aging parents, ways to avoid misunderstandings, the most common pitfalls for siblings and more.

We invite you to contact us to learn more about our senior living communities at Country Meadows. If you’re looking for a Pennsylvania or Maryland retirement home, we would be happy to introduce you to our services. Tour any of our personal care homes in Pennsylvania or our assisted living home in Frederick, MD, as well as our other options—senior independent living, memory support and restorative services. Whatever your needs, we offer a comfortable community life that engages the mind, body and spirit.


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