No matter how old you are it seems that you are always your parents’ little girl or little boy. You may even be a senior yourself but in some situations the parent-child relationship remains firmly in place.
And this is certainly true when it is time to have a difficult conversation with your elderly parent/s that causes both of you to confront head-on some of the more distressing aspects of aging. Taking away the car keys, inability to babysit the grandchildren, power of attorney and the will, funeral pre-planning…the list goes on and on.
We know it’s tough but it can’t be avoided. Here are some tips to make these difficult conversations a little less awkward:
Put safety first. You know that you MUST put safety first regardless of how much pushback you will get. For instance, it may be time to take away the keys to the car. This is understandably very difficult for mom or dad and they feel a loss of independence. When broaching this subject have a thorough and sensitive plan in place. Build a case by keeping track of the senior’s driving history, calculate and discuss the monetary savings, get others to back the decision (i.e. doctor, clergy). Discuss with mom or dad alternative means of travel (i.e. car service, neighbor, friend or yourself) to get them to wherever it is they might want to go. Investigate home delivery services for groceries. Remember to keep the conversation non-accusatory. Often, seniors realize after a couple of weeks that life is actually better not driving!
Be consistent. Your parent gets understandably confused if you are concerned about something on one day and blasé the next. This gives the senior tacit approval to keep doing what they are doing since it is YOU who can’t seem to make up your mind.
Have a conversation with their doctor and involve them in the dialogue. Most seniors have tremendous respect for their doctor and often a medical professional can more easily undertake a topic that will be difficult for you to broach. You can also reference the doctor’s opinion when you are having the conversation with your senior to help add validity to what you are saying.
Make sure that there is agreement within the family. It’s easy to fall back into the patterns that were established when you were a child. If you and your brother never got along or agreed on anything it is entirely possible that the same situation holds true today. Be careful to not make your parent your pawn in the family disagreements. Recognize that having these conversations can be very emotional and if you find yourself having trouble doing what needs to be done or becoming too stressed as a result, locate a support group and seek comfort and advice from people who are going through the same situation.
And remember that there are professionals who can help you with the situation. Daily Money Managers can help pay bills and handle household financial administration and Geriatric Care Managers can assist with the best plan of care. Reach out and help ensure that your senior will have the best quality of life possible.
If you want more information or need further assistance don’t hesitate to contact us at (516) 528-0206.