Avoid family fall outs with this guide on how to talk to your parents about ageing

It can be difficult to broach the subject of ageing with your ageing parents. This path can be a minefield of upset and fallouts if it is not approached in the right way, and with sensitivity. The following are some quick pointers on how to talk to your parents about ageing.

Start the conversation early and keep it ongoing

Talking to your ageing parents about what happens when they are older, is much better to do while they are still relatively healthy and independent can save a lot of confusion and issues later on. It can save a lot of heartache than if you wait until a crisis occurs and they feel they are being forced into something. It’s important that they feel they are in control and have choices in their life and how they live their life.

Not many people do this, usually as it is perceived as a difficult thing to do, it is, however with the right approach it can be made more amicable.

Timing is key, and ensuring you are not in a hurry, this may end up in a long conversation. It’s best to wait for a time when your parents are feeling relaxed and generally positive. The aim here is to float the idea with a helpful approach.

The idea is to take a cooperative approach and reassuring them that they are still in control. Gently easing into the idea is easily done early so that you can plan things together, it also means there is time to keep the conversation going before a crisis point is reached.

Mind your language

One of the most important things about how this conversation is going to head, is the language you use. Anything that suggests you are trying to take control away from your ageing parents is going to get their defences up and will most likely lead to an argument and bad feelings. It then makes it more difficult to be able to approach the subject at a later date.

Phrases like ‘Leave everything to me, I will sort it all’ or you can’t cope anymore, I’m going to do something about it’ are not advisable. Using cooperative language such as asking them what they need, how they feel, ask if they have thought about getting any help. This can create a more meaningful and positive interaction that you can reproach later.

Denial

This is a big thing to deal with and most ageing parents will present some form of denial that they need help. If you get help in for them and they have not been brought around to the idea, they may simply turn the help away at the door, leaving all of you feeling upset and possibly angry.

Then there is often your own denial, perhaps the reasons for any delay in having this conversation is that you have to face up to the fact that your parents are changing and that they won’t be around forever.

Things to avoid

Avoid getting healthcare professionals involved at the early stage of these conversations as your parent will feel like they are being ganged up against, and forced, or losing control. Come up with solutions in partnership with your parents.

Avoid giving them too much information, statistics, brochures, and forms – use appropriate moments and give them small chunks of information.

Avoid talking when emotions are too high, and ensure you keep it as a two way conversation.

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