What Not to Say During Tough Conversations with Aging Parents

When adult children approach aging parents with concerns about safety and independence, a gentle and empathetic approach yields best results.

As our parents grow older, it’s not always easy to know what our role as adult children should be. We want what’s best for them but must be mindful that we are at risk of overstepping our boundaries and finding ourselves trying to parent our parents. 

This is especially true when safety is a concern. There’s a fine line to walk between ensuring senior parents are safe, and promoting the independent lifestyle they need and deserve. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago when our parents were meeting not just all of their own needs, but ours as well. The transition from care provider to care recipient is often frustrating and painful for seniors.

With this in mind, there are specific aspects of independent life that a senior may find themselves to be missing. And if we aren’t careful in how we approach these losses, it can lead to arguments, hurt feelings, and fractured relationships. 

For instance, one facet of senior independence that’s often compromised is in others stepping in to take over tasks that may have become a bit more challenging and take a bit longer for an older adult to complete. While the intentions are certainly the best, doing so can be harmful to a senior’s self-worth and self-esteem. A better approach is to allow plenty of extra time, encourage independence, and to only offer assistance when absolutely necessary. 

One of the greatest indicators of freedom is the ability to drive, to go wherever and whenever we please. When driving is no longer safe for a senior, it’s crucial to approach the subject with empathy and tact. Neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez explains that too often, adult children lose patience with their senior parents, leading to hurtful comments that can be truly traumatic.

For tough conversations with aging parents, he recommends avoiding phrases such as, “You’re not allowed to drive any more!” It is much kinder and more effective to provide seniors with choices, and to engage them in brainstorming a viable alternative. An example of this might be, “I know it’s getting harder for you to see clearly now, which must make it really difficult to drive. Let’s talk about some options that will allow you to go wherever you want safely.” 

Together, you can then come up with a plan that’s agreeable to everyone. When considering Portage in-home care solutions, keep in mind that Home Sweet Home In-Home Care’s caregivers are available any time, day or night, to provide safe transportation and accompaniment for seniors, including in surrounding areas. Customized services are available according to each individual’s wishes and timeframe, whether that means a weekly lunch date with a friend, medical or salon appointments, attending religious services, or simply a Sunday afternoon drive to get out of the house and enjoy the scenery. Contact us at (866) 229-2505 to schedule a free in-home consult and see our full service area.

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