How do I say it?

September 12, 2017

It may be as simple as a worried feeling in the pit of your stomach.  Little signals… laundry piling up, bills are disorganized and piling up, the house looking more unkempt, your seniors’ increased forgetfulness or confusion.

These concerns and observations can spark some serious anxiety about the future with your parent/senior.  Will they be able to maintain their independence? What if they can’t manage on their own? What are you, as their adult child, supposed to do?   

If you haven’t already, it is time to begin a dialog with your elder parent.  But how to begin? Take heart. There is a way and you can do this.  

Some things to consider: 

  • Be respectful and sensitive to how the changes you see might be feeling to them. Most seniors are well aware of the increased difficulties they are having. It scares them.  They may be thinking, “Uh, oh. I CAN’T let anyone see this.” “What am I going to do if I can’t manage _____.”  One of the biggest worries, “I could lose my independence, my house, control of my life.”  
  • It is no fun for a parent to see their child taking a sort of parenting/helper role.  
  • Talking about this subject may bring on some serious denial, anger, irritability, tears and/or shutting you out. Don’t despair. 
  • YOU are the expert regarding the relationship between yourself and your parent and how initiate and manage a discussion. For example, if making your parent laugh is a great way to engage them then do it.   
  • This dialog will occur over time and over many conversations.  You don’t have to accomplish anything in the first conversation except convey your love and concern, and hopefully good humor. That’s it!  
  • LGOTO: Let Go of The Outcome. You can’t MAKE anything happen.  If you a determined to arrive at a certain plan of action or some agreement with your parent at the end of the conversation, you are headed for trouble. Your parent may sense the pressure and throw on the brakes. Unless there is a serious safety issue that demands immediate action, this process is going to take time.   

 Starting the conversation“: 

  • Pick a time, like a walk or after a meal, when neither of you is hungry, tired or stressed.  
  • Avoid having others present, so there is no sense that you are ganging up on your parent/senior(s).  
  • Start the conversation in an easy, relaxed way by talking about something you both are comfortable with. You might then mention some difficulties you are experiencing, such as keeping up with laundry, getting bills paid, or aspects of daily life that can be daunting to you. Then ask, “How is that for you? Is it ever hard to keep up with some the work around here?”  You may get a “No”, but don’t despair. Your parent is listening. They will file this conversation away and think about it. 
  • If your parent is willing to continue the conversation, you might say something like, “You know I love you and care about you. I don’t want you to have to struggle with things. If you would ever like any extra hand with ______, maybe the two of us could figure something out to make things easier.”  This might be the end of the conversation, or they might end up discussing something that is getting hard for them. 
  • This conversation is not an easy to have but so important. Giving your senior a chance to talk about their changing circumstances gives them more control over how their lives will proceed. Who doesn’t want that! 




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