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Talking with My Elderly Parents

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Talking With My Elderly Parents

There are many emotional factors that can make discussions with an aging loved one challenging. The good news is, you’re not alone. There are professionals and resources available to help ensure that the conversation flows as smooth as possible! Here are some tips to help you start the conversation.

Set the tone
Setting the tone is the most important part of starting the conversation with a loved one. Consider the dynamics of your relationship. If there is already tension in the air, you may want to consider enlisting a professional to help guide the conversation. If not, be sure approach matters with an open mind and heart, trying your best to see the situation through their lens. It’s amazing how much progress can be made when we take the time to truly listen to someone’s concerns or fears, instead of trying to “solve” them. Moreover, be sure to validate feelings and emotions!

Stay in your lane
If you have always offered emotional support to your loved one, continue to be that rock. If you have helped with financial and legal affairs, it may make sense to remain in that role.  Be sure that you don’t take on a role that will cause undue stress or aggravation for either of you, as too often adult children or other well-meaning family members take on  roles which they may not have the time, energy, or skill set to manage.  

You don’t have to have all the answers! Gaining your loved one’s trust through meaningful conversations will get you further than trying to tell them what to do. Most of the time, when the senior is engaged in the process, the process goes much smoother! Often, well-meaning family members steamroll the senior by excluding him from the process.  This may cause the senior to put the brakes on the process because he or she feels taken advantage of. 

Tips for a successful conversation

Do your homework

  • Gather siblings and family ahead of time to discuss questions and establish a plan.
  • Know your options and information. If certain care options will be discussed, be sure to have additional information available before it is presented. Therefore, if the option is viable you can establish the next steps at that time.

Remain on neutral ground

  • Choose a location that is comfortable for both parties. Ask the seniors to pick the location where they feel most comfortable. 
  • Be honest! We are all aware of our truth at some level, even with cognitive impairment.
  • Allow the senior to speak freely about the current situation, including what is and what isn’t working in his or her current situation. Avoid interruption, judgment, or input.

Know what is next 

  • Plan for next steps which are inclusive of your wishes as well as your loved one’s wishes and concerns.  
  • Enlist Professionals! There are many professionals available to assist families through the process and guide the conversation. You are not alone in this journey. Be sure to reach out and ask for help!

Feel like you need additional guidance or individualized support?

Our team of Certified Senior Advisors® and Certified Dementia Practitioners have helped hundreds of older adults and their families. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, call 617-227-1600 or email [email protected].

Dovetail Companies provides one point of contact for all services older adults may need when transitioning from their longtime home, minimizing stress and providing peace of mind to focus on the transition rather than the logistics. Dovetail Companies, LLC is the parent company of Dovetail Support Services, LLC; Dovetail Financial, LLC and Dovetail Real Estate Group, LLC. For more information, visit or call 617-227-1600.

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