Having “The Talk” With Your Loved One

All too often, it takes a crisis before you and your family finally sit down with your aging parent to have “The Talk” about getting help to continue living at home.

You know how it goes—Mom or Dad seems to be doing okay, even with moments of forgetfulness or trouble getting around as easily as before. You have your concerns. Is she taking all of her medication? Is he remembering to turn off the stove? Should she still be driving? Does he need a cane or other support to walk outside?

But then again, you don’t want to push too hard or insult Dad’s sense of independence or hurt Mom’s feelings. Or maybe one of your siblings disagrees and tells you that you worry too much.

Then Mom falls and breaks her hip, or Dad leaves food cooking on the stove and starts a kitchen fire, or . . . fill in the blank.

How to Talk about Elder Care Needs Before a Crisis Hits

How do you break the subject of getting help before a crisis, while still respecting your parent’s need to feel capable and self-sufficient?

In this Senior Moment Spotlight, broadcast February 21, 2011, on WCRN-830AM Worcester, Debbie joins Angela Rocheleau, CEO of HomeStaff, and radio host Hank Stolz for a candid conversation about how to have that conversation. (Please click link below for podcast.)

WCRN Senior Moment Spotlight with Deborah Fins and Angela Rocheleau of Home Staff 2-21-11

Key Points to Remember

  • Begin from a loving place. Reassure Mom that you love her and want her to remain independent as long as possible, but that you want to take steps now to ensure that she can do so.
  • Explain that accepting a little help now may well enable Dad to stay on his own longer. Speak in terms of a range of care options, to help him understand that this is not about invading his privacy with round-the-clock help, but rather, a way for him to have assistance with select aspects of his daily routine, as needed.
  • Enlist the help of an independent geriatric care manager or other elder care professional, as necessary, to explain the issues and possible options. Often it’s easier for Mom or Dad to get advice from someone with experience, who can remain objective and not get caught up in family power struggles.
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