As an adult child, you may begin to notice that your aging parents require more assistance and increasingly look to you for information and advice.
You may find yourself becoming concerned that your loved one is not handling things as well as they used to or concerned that his or her safety is in jeopardy. It may be challenging to discuss such issues with your parents. Effectively communicating your feelings and concerns without putting Mom or Dad on the defensive may be a difficult task.
When talking with your aging parents, it’s important to use an approach that lets Mom or Dad know that you want to understand him or her better and that you are not trying to take over his or her life. Your approach should show a willingness to work together. You may find that Mom or Dad expresses a hesitancy to accept assistance from you or from community resources. He or she may not want to spend their money on services or other types of assistance. If you find your parents uncooperative, listen and be patient. Reluctance to change is not uncommon. It’s important to remember that older adults need time to prepare for changes and to adjust to them. It’s also important to emphasize Mom or Dads’ strengths rather than dwell on any weaknesses.
Effective communication requires listening and acknowledging their feelings and opinion. It’s important to talk with and not at your parents. The goal should be open, honest communication.
Keep in mind that if communication is difficult, it may be necessary to seek advice regarding your particular situation from an appropriate professional. After all, you don’t always want to look like the bad guy!
Carolyn Anderson, MSW, GCM, is the Elder Care Team Leader at Work/Life Benefits, a national provider of work/life services. (c) Accor Services North America, Inc. 2004. This material is for informational assistance only. It is not intended to provide any reader with specific authority, advice, or recommendations.
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This article was originally published in the Spring, 2005 issue of Caring Today magazine, page 62. Reprinted with permission from Caring Today magazine.
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