How to Have Difficult Conversations with Your Elderly Parents - Celestial Care

How to Have Difficult Conversations with Your Elderly Parents

Are you wondering about the best ways to approach sensitive conversations with elderly parents? These tips can guide you.

Having difficult conversations with elderly parents is not anyone’s idea of a good time, but sometimes it’s necessary. As parents age, challenging transitions occur, and it often feels like navigating new territory for adult children who have never had to face these types of situations and conversations.

It’s essentially like going through a role reversal. The person who was once your authority figure and taught you right from wrong is now someone who needs guidance, support, and direction from you. Whether you need to discuss taking the car keys away due to unsafe driving, financial matters, or the prospect of hiring a caregiver to help the elderly parent, these tips for difficult conversations will help.

When Elderly Parents Don’t Want to Talk about It

An all too common scenario is when it’s time to discuss an important issue, and the elderly parent shuts down to avoid the discussion entirely. They may say there’s nothing to discuss, say they will talk about it later, or even give you the silent treatment. In these situations, it’s important to remain calm and avoid getting angry or frustrated. Your negative emotions will only work against the desired outcome and make your parent more resistant to the conversation.

Instead, take the following approach to the discussion your aging parent doesn’t want to have:

  • Be empathic. Understand this situation is indeed difficult for your parent. The role reversal is unpleasant, and one they never wanted to happen. Show your empathy by listening to their concerns without judgment. Let them know you care and try to put yourself in their shoes.
  • Be an active listener. Active listening is when you truly listen and then restate what the person says. It’s responding like, “what I hear you saying is…” or “it sounds like you are feeling…” This shows your parent you are listening and allows you to validate their feelings and experiences, which will encourage them to become less defensive and more open to hearing from you.
  • Avoid talking down to them. It’s never a good idea to patronize or belittle an elderly parent in the conversation. Continue to show them respect and consideration. Show that you care about their input and want to help them consider all the options so they can have the safest, highest quality of life possible.
  • Empower them with choices. Rather than going into the conversation, telling them what is going to happen, essentially taking away their power, give them choices when possible. When a person of any age feels like he or she has options, it promotes a sense of empowerment, rather than powerlessness. Offer more than one option, providing examples and stories that go along with each, so the elderly parent can feel good about making a choice.

When You Need Extra Support to Make Decisions

In some cases, no matter how much empathy you offer or how well you handle the conversation with your elderly parent, you can’t seem to make progress. At times like these, it can be helpful to have the extra support and expert guidance from Certified Care Management professionals.

At Celestial Care, we are available to help you and your loved ones navigate issues around independence and daily living. We are dedicated to making this challenging time of transition as smooth and peaceful as possible. Connect with us online now to schedule a consultation.