8 Practical Hints on How to Talk to Your Aging Parents
Following all the instructions of your parents when you were growing up was hard, but it’s even harder when it’s their time to listen to you.
Talking to your aging parents can be challenging. They can be very stubborn, and discussing serious topics of their well-being may become very difficult.
As much as you understand, they are not doing what they are doing on purpose, it still gets to your nerves, and it can be very frustrating.
So what is the best way to talk to your aging parents without upsetting them and getting frustrated?
Here are top tips that will change your communication with your elderly parents for the best;
Spare Your Advice Unless It’s Requested
Your parent has been in charge of your actions all your life. He/she has been the person you probably run to when you are in a dilemma.
Having you advise them can appear like you are taking their role. The shift can be hard to accept as they feel like they are being replaced.
It is, therefore, best to withhold your advice before generously offering it. Instead, offer support and encouragement.
If you have to give advice, test the waters first.
For example, instead of saying, “The house is very untidy and dirty, you need to hire someone to help you clean it.”
You can say, “Maintaining the house must be hard.” If they seem receptive go ahead and say, “You know hiring a housekeeper is cheaper and it can help you get more free time to knit (or any of their hobby).
This ensures that you don’t come out as if you are commanding her or making decisions for her.
The strategy can work even when you are discussing hard topics.
For instance, if its about moving to a home.
You can tell her, “Olivia’s mom moved to homecare, you should hear her talk about the great company she is having with her age mates. It’s like a reunion.
This may get her thinking about the idea and eventually embracing it as their own.
Listen to Your Aging Parent
Be attentive when an older person is talking to you. Their input is valid. Don’t interrupt them.
Also, when they suddenly pause during a conversation, don’t feel the need to fill the gaps or completing the sentences for them. They might be thinking about something.
Practice patience during dialogues, and they will slowly start reciprocating the attention.
Agree to Disagree
Most of the times, nothing is right or wrong – there are just different points of views. Our different personalities are what make the world interesting.
This is a vital point to remember when you are talking to your parents – when you find yourself at crossroads with an elder, where they think otherwise of your long-thought decision.
Resist the temptation of pushing it for them to see it your way. If they are still of sound mind and it’s not a matter of life and death, go with their decision.
Sometimes, it takes longer discussions and time for them to get to where you are.
Again, you need to exercise your patience.
Change is hard to accept.
With aging adults, it is not easy to accept that they can’t hear anymore or understand a conversation.
It is, therefore, your responsibility to talk calmly and be gentle. If necessary, talk loudly but don’t shout.
Be eloquent and avoid mumbling.
Additionally, don’t talk about so many topics at the same time; focus on one thing at a time.
Use of simple words and short sentences also boosts their understanding.
If you still sense that they are not following, rephrase the sentences.
While doing this, avoid being patronizing. Even though your parent may be living with dementia, he/she is not a child. Treating him/her like one can, therefore, may be offensive.
It can also easily trigger a fight.
Clear Distractions When Talking
Human beings are easily distracted.
How many times have you decided to focus on something and ended up doing something different? Countless times I guess.
Multitasking and concentrating get worse as we age.
It is, therefore, advisable to create a conducive environment to communicate before you start an important topic.
See that the TV, radio or any other devices are turned off or reduce the volume.
If you are having a family meeting, don’t position them at the end of the table. Let them be in the middle of the table so that they are continually aware that they are part of the discussion.
Put Yourself into the Shoes of Your Aging Parent
It’s hard to understand what another individual is going through if we are not going through what they are going through.
Try to fit yourself into the shoes of your parents.
What would you if you were -losing everything – your spouse, health, money, friends, mobility, or independence?
It’s definitely a stormy time of life.
Acknowledge their losses and encourage them to talk about them. It these talks that you get a chance to solve their troubles.
It is easier to help them when you can show them that the solutions help them gain back their control.
Choose Your Struggle
As seniors grow older, they develop multiple complications. It may be mobility issues, loneliness, memory problems, etc.
Your goal is to improve their well-being through whatever way you can.
However, you need to pick your battle.
Decide what really matters and concentrate on improving it. Working on many things at the same time can be overwhelming for both you and the elder.
Ultimately, you may not accomplish anything.
Work on small things and enjoy the small victories.
Eventually, you will accomplish what you wanted.
Laugh Whenever You Get a Chance
Laughter is the best medicine.
The most challenging situations can become less hectic by a simple laugh.
Grab any humorous situations whenever you get them.
A laugh can build closeness and tighten the bond between you and the elder.
However, ensure that you are not laughing at them but with them.
Start the Talk Early
Don’t wait until it is too late to start the conversation with your parents.
Talk to them in advance about their health and make them understand that you want to act right by them.
Don’t wait until your parents are struggling with health and financial issues to bring up the topic. This only makes matters worse.
Preparation also ensures you act accordingly when a problem occurs instead of reacting to the issue.
Getting to see your parents aging is a blessing and something to celebrate.
However, sometimes, it may not feel like it, especially when they are stubborn.
Good communication skills can help you improve your relationship with aging adults.
Remember, the whole process is equally hard for them.
Having to depend on children – is the nightmare of most parents.
Be gentle, patient, and choose the right time to introduce sensitive topics.
Allow them to participate in the decision-making process, as well.