It’s common for parents and children to have difficulty discussing sensitive subjects. This communication barrier between generations can continue through adulthood for children of aging parents.
This “disconnect” occurs when there is an implied authority figure. How many times in your life have you heard “I know what’s best for you”? If you ever walked away from a conversation thinking that the other person was defensive, chances are they were attempting to assert their independence or sense of control.
A free program developed by Country Meadows titled “Critical Conversations with Aging Parents” offers recommendations for handling the most common and uncomfortable topics affecting older adults-driving, finances, and moving to a retirement community.
The following list provides tips designed to promote positive communication:
- Don’t begin the conversation with the solution already in mind
- State your concerns. What is it that you are observing that is worrisome?
- Ask don’t tell. Instead of telling him or her what they should do, ask for their ideas.
- Be prepared. Do research ahead of time so that you can be a resource if questions arise.
- Be supportive. Conversations like this stir up emotions. Assure him or her that you will help find a solution.
- Be a good listener. By understanding what is really going on, you will be more helpful in the long run.
- Timing is important. Ideally it’s best to avoid having these conversations during times of high stress-like an illness, hospitalization, or death.
- Be proactive. Don’t wait for a crisis to occur to address your concerns.
- When it’s appropriate, invite others to be part of the discussion. Consider including experts, other siblings, or those who would provide support-like clergy or friends.
- Explore solutions together. By doing so, you reduce some of the fear that is associated with these changes.