Part 1 of this communication series offers ideas about arranging the most effective locations to have sensitive eldercare conversations with aging parents. The importance of using timing to your advantage also enhances the likelihood of being heard and reaching consensus.
What else is important to consider ahead of time is your communication approach. Be aware that asking questions, rather than making statements will most likely get you much better results. These and many other communication strategies are available in my book, The Complete Eldercare Planner.
If you decide that the time is right to have an eldercare conversation, and you know that the discussion has the potential to be emotionally explosive, before you decide to proceed, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I over-tired or stressed out right now? (The more relaxed you are the better. If you’re particularly on edge, postpone the discussion and get a good night’s sleep.)
- Is Mom or Dad a morning person or a night owl? (Initiate conversations when they are at their peak performance.)
- Is it better to separate my parents or approach them together? (If you are closer to your Mom (or Dad), this may be a smart strategy.)
- Do I have enough information on this particular subject to discuss it intelligently, or do I need to do more homework? (The idea here is to be able to add depth to the conversation. Don’t start something you can’t finish.)
- Do I have sufficient time now to get involved in a long, and possibly serious, discussion? (Clearing your schedule of time limitations takes the pressure off you to “rush” the conversation which in turn creates a more stressful communication environment.)
Here’s one last tip. Keep in mind how long it has been since you last brought up this particular subject. A common communication mistake family members make with respect to initiating eldercare conversations is not giving their parents enough time to analyze and digest the issues raised in the previous discussion.
Understandably, you want the problem solved and behind you; but our parents often need more time that we would like to move forward. Going too fast too soon can lead to misunderstandings, or a feeling that they are being bombarded.
Click Here to read Part 1.