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Laura Cavanagh

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How to Communicate with your Aging Parents

7 Tips to Help Boomer Children Communicate with their Aging Parents

Many adult children of aging adults know how difficult it can be to talk with their parents about certain topics. Here are tips to help family caregivers communicate with their aging parents:

Get Started
If you’re 40 or your parents are 70, it’s time to start observing and gathering information carefully and thoughtfully. Don’t reach a conclusion from a single observation, and decide on the best solution until you’ve gathered information with an open mind and talked to your parents.

Talk it Out
Approach your parents with a conversation. Discuss what you’ve observed, and ask your parents what they think is going on. If your parents acknowledge the situation, ask what they think would be good solutions. If your parents don’t recognize a problem, use concrete examples to support your case.

Sooner is Best
Talk sooner rather than later when a crisis has occurred. If you know your loved one has poor eyesight or has trouble driving at night, begin to address those issues before a problem arises.

Forget the Baby Talk
Remember you are talking to an adult, not a child. Patronizing speech or baby talk will put older adults on the defensive and convey a lack of respect for them. Put yourself in your parents’ shoes, and think of how you would want to be addressed in the situation.

Maximize Independence
Always try to move toward solutions that provide the maximum amount of independence for your parents. Look for answers that optimize strengths and compensate for problems. For instance, if your loved ones need help at home, look for tools that can help them maintain their strengths. Seek assistance for meal preparation, light housekeeping or medication reminders, or find friends who can help. 

Be Aware of the Whole Situation
If your father passes away and soon after your mother’s house seems to be in disarray, it’s probably not because she suddenly became ill. It’s much more likely to stem from a lack of social support and the loss of a lifelong relationship. Make sure your mom has friends and social activity.

Ask for Help
Many of the issues of aging can be solved by providing parents with the support they need to continue to maintain their independence. 

Source: Home Instead Senior Care 70-40 Rule Booklet