What You Need To Know About Your Parents That No One Wants To Talk About—Part 3
In part two of What You Need To Know About Your Aging Parents That No One Wants To Talk About, we discussed how to start the conversation with your parents about how they want to spend their elder years. Once you start talking, you must be prepared listen. Really listen.
What should I say?
You don't have to have all of the solutions right away. Just ask your parents questions like: What do you worry about? What do you still enjoy doing that you would like to do more of? What do you need from me? What makes you happy? Then listen with an open mind. This is an opportunity for you to learn things about your mom or dad that you never knew before. They'll want you to listen to their fears and concerns without being told how to handle them.
Let your parents talk without interruption. Just be there with an ear and a comforting hand while they speak. When they are done, repeat what you heard them say in your own words. This will give assurance that you heard them and that you get it.
What should I NOT say?
There are some common mistakes that people make when raising difficult subjects that you'll want to avoid. For example, if your parents are still capable of making their own decisions, don't make any for them. If you start making appointments for them or announce that you have found the perfect assisted living home without involving them in the decision, they're not going to want to continue the conversation you worked so hard to start.
When getting this conversation started, you'll want to leave legal documents, financial paperwork and retirement home brochures behind. This won't do anything but overwhelm your parents. In the beginning, baby steps are best. For now, just get the dialogue started.
Take it easy.
It's also best to remember that no matter how ill or confused your parent may be, he is still an adult. Be patient and kind. Be aware of the tone of voice you use so your parent does hear it as being talked down to, nagged or lectured.Lastly, if a holiday season is the only time the family is all together to talk, avoid broaching the subject over the dinner table. You won't get a great response and your parents may feel ambushed. Instead,give your parents notice and set aside a separate time to talk.In the next installment, we'll discuss the topics you should cover when you talk to your parents.