When was the last time you had a genuine conversation with your elderly parents? Did you ever feel like your parents weren’t paying attention or comprehending what you were saying? Was that the point at which you chose to call a halt to the conversation?
The conversation has reached an impasse, and neither you nor your aging parents are willing to budge. When it comes to their safety and security, you aren’t willing to compromise. You’re feeling so frustrated and wish they could see things from your point of view.
In this case, our list will give you the tools to manage conversations that make everyone feel heard and understood. These are eight proven ways to communicate effectively and may help achieve a resolution that makes everyone happy.
RELATED: What Happens After “The Talk” About Senior Living Options
Why Won’t Your Aging Parent Listen?
As your aging parents reach their golden years, it might surprise you how many of their decisions you disagree with. You probably thought as they aged you wouldn’t be involved with their decisions, but every year you find it impacts your life more and more. From the sidelines, you might be wringing your hands with worry over their diet, lifestyle, or recent purchases. In a recent study conducted by The Gerontological Society of America, 77% of adults agreed their parents are stubborn and will not listen to advice or seek outside help.
The main reason for the pushback is your aging parent’s fear of loss of independence. After living their life to their standards, imagining change or strangers in their home is daunting. Even if you can clearly see the benefits, you can’t force them to do anything.
8 Ways To Effectively Communicate With Aging Parents
The next time you are trying to have a conversation try one of the following techniques.
Start With Acceptance
It’s not a compromise, but it does show your parents that you support them. Your acceptance also helps lower their guard and doesn’t start the conversation as defensive.
Pick Your Battles
When you were growing up, you didn’t like when your parents would be involved in every decision. The roles have reversed, and now it’s more vital for you to maintain communication with them. This means sometimes you’ll just need to listen.
It means taking a deep breath and not reacting right away. Take five minutes alone to process how you feel, what you would ideally like to happen, and then accept that it’s their life before going back into the conversation.
Let Them Know You Are On Their Side
We know this one is difficult because it can feel like you are “letting them win,” but it’s their life at the end of the day. If your elderly parents are still mentally coherent, then let them live these years how they see fit. The more you support them now, the stronger your relationship will be in the future.
Make Sure You Have Support
Finding a local support group or unbiased third party is an excellent way for you to feel heard and find out what other families are doing. It’ll help put things in perspective, and you may also learn new solutions you hadn’t thought of.
Instead of immediately saying, “that’s a bad idea,” find out why this idea appeals to your parents. Learn what they get out of the experience, and then ask more questions until you feel comfortable. Asking questions will also help you tailor a different solution to meet their needs.
Bring In Family Support
If you have siblings or if your parents value the advice of any family members, ask them to bring them into the conversation. Don’t surprise them by getting more people involved because it will feel like you are ambushing. Try saying, “I think (family member) did something similar last year. Let’s call them and find out how their experience was.”
Call Their Doctor
If your parents are doing something that you believe will cause bodily harm, reach out to their doctor. Having a conversation with their primary medical practitioner will ease your mind and potentially support your instincts. Their doctor might also have a new solution to offer based on their current health.
Practice Listening To Your Aging Parents
To understand better, make sure you are actively listening. Follow these guidelines to find out what that means.
If you are actively listening, then you are not interrupting. You are not assuming that you already know the worst will happen and patiently listening to the other person’s opinion.
Do not multitask when your parents are trying to have a conversation with you. It’s distracting, and they are less likely to feel supported if you are not focused.
At the end of the conversation, ask to sleep on it. Your aging parent will appreciate the time you are dedicating to understanding the situation. They will feel more supported and comfortable listening to new solutions.
Sometimes the best thing for helping elderly parents is to organize the information. If they have come to you with their needs and explained why, then the next step is to organize the information. This will demonstrate you were listening and that you support them. Taking the time to organize everything will also highlight any issues you see in a neutral approach.
Let your aging parents know that you care about the things that bring them joy. You can do this by showing interest and making sure to ask how their hobbies or weekly activities went. You can even put a future reminder in your calendar the minute they tell you they have something planned.
Using active listening and any of our communication tips will let your parents know you still see them as independent adults. They don’t want to seem weak or a burden and will be more likely to accept help if you have been supportive leading up to the issue.
Find Support Within The 12 Oaks Family of Communities
Your aging parents or relatives might be struggling to communicate due to memory loss. One of the first warning signs for Alzheimer’s or Dementia is forgetfulness. Our communities may be the ideal environment for your family member in this new stage of life.
Choosing our Symphony of Life® Memory Care approach means your family member is surrounded by the healing properties of music, art, and pets. We make every day meaningful with a team that is trained to develop a custom lifestyle plan for your family member
Choosing a 12 Oaks Senior Living community doesn’t mean sacrificing your parent’s or grandparent’s independence. Give them a life tailored to their joy and comfort. We encourage you to book a tour and connect with us today.
If you have questions about aging parents or any conditions discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while still leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks community is an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to book a scheduled personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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