Talking To Elderly Parents

QUESTION

My sister and I are trying to get our elderly parents to sit down and discuss their future. They’re presently in their eighties and can’t keep up with their large house. Mom no longer cooks proper meals for them. Dad is diabetic and we’re not sure if he’s taking his medication regularly. We also don’t think that Dad should have a driver’s license. How can we get them to talk about these things without hurting their feelings?

ANSWER

JILL:
Judging by some of your concerns, you are no longer and the point of ‘if’ you should have a conversation with them but it is more of ‘when’. Take heart though, there are ways of doing it so that feelings are not hurt.
At this stage in their life your parents are probably experiencing many emotions such as fear, sadness, anger even depression. You need to lay the groundwork to help elevate some of these feelings, so I suggest that you both meet to discuss the best plan before talking to your parents. Write down the issues that are concerning you both, and then look for ways to work though those problems. Research what is available in your community, talk to their doctors and find resources on the internet. If you go to your parents with some suggestions they will not be as fearful.

When you have everything organized ask to meet with them at their home; that will feel like a safe place for them. Make it the four of you so that there are no distractions and you have some privacy. Speak honestly and with love, treat them with respect and listen to their concerns. Stay in the here and now & avoid laying blame.

Time is important but they will need to process your suggestions. Let them know when you want to meet again to set things in motion.

This is a difficult and emotional time for all of you so take it step by step. Get them the help that they need by creating a support team; experts such as doctors, home care professionals, financial planners, and pharmacists are available to help you at this time.

VICKI:

It’s really about the way you approach your parents. Please keep in mind that there isn’t a person on this planet that wants to hear that their family no longer feels they can take care of themselves. It can leave them feeling vulnerable and without dignity.

If you were thinking they should go into a retirement home and tell them that you will most likely get resistance, especially if they’ve been in their home long term. Since many of these retirement facilities are quite expensive it may be more economical and feel safer to your parents if they had help come to their home.

Get together a list (with prices) of services that could help them such as a cleaning service or a out of house companion that comes daily and does the driving.

Then approach your parents offering help so they can live a more leisurely lifestyle. At their age leisure sounds much better than dependence. Should your parents refuse you have no choice but to listen to their wishes.

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