Our loved ones have spent most of their adult lives putting food on the table, driving themselves to and from their appointments, and handling their own financial matters. However, as they age, activities that were once considered easy may be harder to accomplish. Here are some tips to help navigate through the conversations with Mom or Dad regarding their age-related limitations.
Our cars allow us to be independent. Hopping in the car to drive where you want, whenever you want, is empowering. Although it may be in their best interest, taking the keys away from Mom may cause her a lot of grief. It may take a few conversations before your parent understands why they are no longer able to drive. Being the bearer of bad news can be troublesome but keeping your Mom or Dad safe is the number one priority. Your parent may be upset or confused, so give them some time to process the situation.
Gauge their temperament
Mom or Dad may have trouble remembering to turn on the stove to boil the water. Maybe they gradually forget the key ingredients to their signature dish. It may be time to hire some help to ensure your loved one is eating properly and nutritiously. If your parent is having a tough day, consider revisiting what could be a challenging conversation on a day when your mom or dad feels relaxed rather than sad or anxious. Timing is everything.
Ask, don’t tell
Perhaps you feel that it is unsafe for your parent to live alone and you are beginning to research options for living arrangements. Instead of telling your mom or dad that it is time to sell their home and move to a senior living community, try asking him or her open-ended questions about their current struggles living at home. It may help your parent realize on their own that living by themselves is no longer a viable or safe option.
Talk about it early
As you begin to notice that your loved one is experiencing age-related difficulties, be sure to address your concerns with Mom or Dad sooner rather than later. It may take multiple conversations to get your parent to come around, and you don’t want to risk an accident by waiting too long. It is dangerous for your loved one and other drivers on the road if your mom or dad can’t see or hear properly and has trouble navigating home. Take care not to blindside your parent and try to ease into a conversation. Detail your concerns calmly and offer options as your parent becomes receptive to your concerns.
Understanding how to sensitively handle your concerns as your parent begins to encounter limitations can be extremely difficult, especially when your parent was the decision maker for most of your life. However, know that things take time, and you are doing what is best for your loved one. It can be hard for your parent to understand that assistance is warranted. Take a deep breath and know that tomorrow is a new day.