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Senior Care: Having the Tough Conversation with Aging Parents

Tough Conversations

Last updated: April 9, 2015

Talking with a loved one about their current needs and long-term care isn't easy. A successful conversation depends upon the relationship we have with the individual, as well as their mental, emotional and physical condition.

It's easy to put off serious discussions to avoid conflict or awkward conversations. However, not taking the time to understand your loved one's wishes and establish a mutually agreed upon plan may result in more conflict, heartache and suffering for all involved.

Tips for Talking with Elders About Senior Care Needs

  • Share Your Own Feelings
    Be honest and open about how you see the current situation evolving and about your own capabilities and needs, especially in terms of your ability to provide care.
  • Emphasize Your Role as an Advocate
    Let your loved ones know that you want to make sure to carry out their wishes as much as possible, and that they can depend on you to act in their best interest. Make it clear that you are not trying to bulldoze your way into their lives and reorganize familiar routines or make all the decisions about their future care.
  • Listen to Concerns
    Don't brush off any anxieties your loved ones may expressed. Instead, try making a written list of concerns that will need to be addressed when making plans for care.
  • Discuss How Emergencies Should Be Handled
    Don't wait until it's too late to figure out where key financial records, insurance policies and health information is stored. It's also a good idea to dicuss the circumstances under which your loved ones would like you to become their Power of Attorney.

To the extent possible, have an open and honest discussion about their wishes, abilities and options. While the thought of such dialogue may be uncomfortable, you will be in a better position to make decisions later when your loved one may not be able to do so.

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