Talking about aging is difficult
Visiting your parents might be a wake-up call that they’re starting to need help. Because you’re worried about their safety and well-being, you’re probably wondering how to talk with them about aging. It’s natural to want to avoid these topics, but for everyone’s sake, it’s better to start the conversations before a crisis happens.
What you’re discussing will be big life changes for your parents, so it’ll take more than one conversation before things start to happen. We rounded up some useful tips and information about how to talk with parents about aging.
Tips to plan conversations
It will feel uncomfortable to bring up topics related to aging and lifestyle changes. But if you think ahead and plan what to say, it will be easier and more productive for everyone.
- Write an outline so you have something to follow and won’t forget important points. This helps organize your thoughts.
- Approach the conversation around the most important considerations for older adults: safety, freedom, peace of mind, social connection, and being able to make choices.
- Emphasize that there aren’t “right” or “wrong” options or ideas. It’s helpful to consider a number of things as good options when starting to have these conversations.
Be respectful and considerate
- Put yourself in their shoes. Let them know you care about how they feel and what they want.
- Be a good listener. Let them talk and really listen, even if what they say makes you think about your own aging.
- Your relationship may change as you have these conversations, but you shouldn’t consider yourself the “parent” or that you now “know what’s best.”
Who will be there and where will this happen?
- Involve everyone in the family who should there.
- Plan for plenty of time to talk in a quiet place where your parents will feel calm and can focus on the conversation.
- If you’re afraid of getting started, run your ideas past a professional – a social worker at a local agency or senior center, a therapist, or someone at your church or local hospital.
- Start with casual conversations to plant seeds. Then build on those to lead to bigger, more decision-making conversations later.
- Ice breakers to try:
- Say “I’ve noticed some things take more energy these days. What are the important things you really want to do? What are your priorities? Is there a way we can make it easier for you to do those things?”
- Say how much you admire the way they’ve handled retirement and ask for advice on what has worked well for them so that you can learn from them.
- Use something like an event in the news or a story about an aging family member or friend. Say, “We never talk about these things. I don’t want to pry, but it would give me peace of mind to know there’s a plan if we need it.”
By DailyCaring Editorial Team