July 18, 2012

How to Have an It’s Time Conversation with an Elderly Parent

All of us will get older. As we age, our parents age as well. Eventually there comes a point where living situations for elderly parents need to be adjusted. It’s not a simple conversation to have; it can be embarrassing, cause anger, and feelings can be hurt, but it’s a necessary conversation. Even if your elderly parent is mentally sound, suggesting a major life change may — to them — may seem like an affront. To have a meaningful, fruitful conversation, consider the following tips:

  • Be respectful. You are dealing with a parent, after all. Tell your parent how you feel in a calm, concerned tone. Explain to them that the current living arrangement is not constructive and that you will do whatever is in your power to help them find the right situation.
  • Involve your parent. Ultimately, your mother or father will be the person who has to deal with the choices made. They should be given a say in the outcome. To a reasonable extent, allow the parent to make decisions.
  • Provide comfort. Reassure your parent that nothing is happening right this moment. The process can be a slow one. If your parent is uncomfortable with all the changes, and he or she will be, be calm and comforting and encourage him or her to relax.
  • Be prepared. Don’t get into a deep conversation without knowing the issue. Know how much you can afford, how far you are willing to relocate your parent, and what every other possibility entails. If your parent senses a lack of confidence, they will feel even more helpless. Don’t be a know-it-all, but be wise to all options.
  • Don’t try to do it all. It’s a huge responsibility to make these decisions. Let your parent know how you’re feeling about the situation and be clear with them how much time and effort you are able to provide.