Talking with your aging family member about sensitive topics and issues may not always go the way that you want it to go. In fact, if you aren’t careful, your senior could shut down on you completely.
Wait for a Comfortable Time and Place
If you’re starting this conversation when your elderly family member or you are tense or upset, then it’s already off on a bad foot. You might feel as if waiting for the right time and place is something that complicates the conversation even more, but remember that the right setting can do so much for any situation.
Start with a General Inquiry
Once you’re in the right groove, remember to start out with generalities and open-ended questions. This gives your elderly family member a chance to fill in information here and there, which can help you to find a conversational entry into what you really need and want to know. If you’re not sure how to start, just ask your senior how she’s doing or what it’s like for her at home right now.
Narrow Down the Topic Gradually
From there, you can start to narrow down the topic even further. Depending on how your elderly family member is responding to the choice of topic, you can determine whether you can do this quickly or you have to handle it a little more tenderly. For example, if you want to help your senior more by hiring elderly care providers, how you narrow down to that topic matters quite a bit. If she’s sensitive about needing more help, this conversation can go badly very quickly.
Be Careful Not to Sound Accusatory
Your tone can convey quite a bit more than you intend. If you accidentally sound as if you’re nagging or accusing your senior, you may shut down any sort of conversation. Keep your tone open, loving, and conversational. This can be tough to do if you’re frustrated by your elderly family member’s responses, so it’s important to practice if necessary.
This Is about Finding a Solution
Ultimately, this is about helping your senior to find a solution. It’s not about winning or losing an argument. If you’re feeling that it is becoming an argument, it might be time for you to step back and regroup before you try the conversation again.
If your senior isn’t interested in having this conversation, no matter how gently you try to approach it, you may have to step back and try again. Unless the situation is one that is immediately potentially harmful, chances are that you can take your time in coming to a resolution.