Finding the right senior care option for yourself or a loved one can feel like everything is falling into place. But how do people and families reach this point, and even more so, how do you start those tough conversations with seniors?
Here at SeniorCaring.com, we realize that aging is a wonderfully diverse experience for everyone and there’s no definite answer on the best way to approach seeking elder care other than starting with compassion and understanding someone’s needs. Whether someone is apprehensive about moving, or instead is having difficulty finding their ideal option, we realize that starting the conversation is often the first step!
Today we’ll discuss some of our tips for having tough conversations with seniors about retirement and other issues, no matter where someone is in their life’s journey:
Having Tough Conversations with Seniors | The Basics
Aging can bring so many great things: wisdom, experiences, and a sense of deep understanding that takes time to acquire! On the other hand, we’ll all eventually need the support of trusted friends, family, and professionals to continue living life to the fullest. Sometimes, the changes in our lives can be difficult to deal with, giving rise to a need for honest discussions addressing someone’s needs or plan for retirement.
Regardless of how many people encounter these situations and experiences, there’s still cause to review some tips for having tough conversations with seniors about the issues they may encounter.
1. Who is Your Loved One?
Everyone has a unique personality and temperament, although responding to tough conversations usually falls between two extremes for many people.
It may be that your parent or loved one is rather straightforward, ready to look an issue straight in the eye and approach it logically and with dry objective discussion, all while remaining open to suggestions. On the other hand, some seniors may prefer to handle tough topics in a more private and emotional way and remain apprehensive about the opinions and suggestions others may have.
Neither way is necessarily better or worse, but it’s important to understand how someone is likely to respond before jumping straight into talks about finding a retirement community, giving up the car keys, or planning for a serious medical situation.
2. Understand the Goals of Both Sides
While it’s likely to remain a collaborative effort throughout the process of finding someone’s ideal retirement option, it’s helpful to think about your own goals for your loved one while understanding where they’re coming from as well.
Starting the dialogue relies on having some concrete points of discussion. Wondering what type of care is best for someone? What’s involved with senior rehab? How can someone get around without a car of their own?
No matter the topic, it’s important to do some research ahead of time in order to compare the available options to the needs expressed by your senior loved one in addition to your own concerns and intentions.
3. Start with Simple Questions
The art of conversation is rarely perfected by those who jump immediately to their final conclusion without letting the other side get a word in edgewise. Regardless of whether your loved one is open to discussion or not, it’s important to start from a place of neutrality and objectivity when initiating an important conversation.
Generally, you’ll want to frame things positively and with a helpful or caring premise like:
- How’s the house? Are you doing alright with keeping everything in shape?
- How’s your health lately? Anything your doctor has mentioned that you’d like to share?
- Have you been getting around alright? Still driving to your own appointments and everything?
Questions like these can test the waters to see whether someone is open to sharing more about any concerns they might have in certain areas of their lives, allowing you to provide follow-up questions such as:
- Is there anything I can do to help?
- Yes, I can understand that would be frustrating/bothersome. Do you want to discuss it more when we meet next?
- Have you asked anyone else about this yet?
At this point, you’ll be able to determine whether or not the conversation should move further into specifics, including researching potential solutions and resources to pursue.
4. Remain Flexible Yet Intentional
Once you’ve gotten a clear picture of the needs and concerns of your senior loved one, it’s important to stay focused on achieving those goals without being overbearing or pushy. Whether it’s locating a senior care option, dealing with a recent illness or injury, or addressing lifestyle changes in general, working toward established objectives is important.
Another helpful facet of this is relying on impartial messengers like doctors, care professionals, or other experts in order to keep the conversation focused and productive.
Really, it’s often about finding the right balance of incorporating someone’s specific needs with the concerns and approach of their family and loved ones for the best possible outcome — which is sometimes much easier said than done.
Still, taking an open and compassionate, yet objective approach can be a good starting point for having those tough conversations with seniors.