As more and more seniors choose to stay in their homes as they get older their children are wanting to be more involved in their senior parents’ lives to make sure that they are safe and happy at home. But if you live far away from your senior loved one, or you haven’t been that close with your parent over the years reconnecting with your loved one can be awkward. Talking to a senior parent about the realities of aging in place, like the need for elder care or personal care at home can be difficult if you haven’t always had a close or supportive relationship. Use these communication tips to help bridge that gap and talk more effectively about elder care, home care assistance, and other sensitive topics.
Pick The Right Time
If you and your senior parent have a history of not being able to talk to each other very effectively choose the right time to have a sensitive conversation with them. If you’re tired, stressed out, or upset after working all day that’s not the best time to sit down and talk to your senior parent about incontinence issues. When your senior loved one is tired or upset or not feeling well that’s not a great time to talk about companion care.
Choose a time when you both are rested, relaxed, and open to effective communication about tough issues. A good thing to do is to schedule the conversation for a day and time when you’re both feeling relaxed and open. On a Sunday morning with brunch, for example. Or first thing in the morning because you’re stressed out from the day.
Write Down What You Want To Say
When you’re talking to a senior parent about tough things or embarrassing things it’s sometimes hard to get the words right. Write down what you want to say in advance. That way you won’t forget anything important. And you won’t be distracted by tangents in the conversation. Even if it’s just a list of talking points that you want to be covered, having something written down will help the conversation stay focused and flow smoothly.
Be Prepared To Listen
It’s just as important to listen as it is to talk when you need to have a tough conversation with someone, especially with a parent. Don’t let communication problems from the past make you defensive or quick to interrupt your senior loved one. Remember that it’s not easy for them to talk about these issues with you just like it’s not easy for you to talk about sensitive topics with them. Be willing to keep your mouth shut and really listen to their point of view.
Try Different Methods Of Communication
Communicating effectively is different for every family. If you find that you and your senior can’t talk to each other without one or both of you becoming defensive and pulling the conversation off course, then try another approach. Instead of talking about your issues write them down in a notebook, leave that notebook for your senior parent, and then pick up the notebook in a couple of days. That will give our senior parent time to read the notebook, think about what you wrote, and give you a thoughtful and measured response.