Solid Communication Techniques Improve Conversations About Difficult Subjects With Older Parents
Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) October 20, 2014 – Speaking to older parents about challenging subjects, including finances or the need for assisted living, can be stressful for both parties. Small disagreements can take on enormous significance, and overall communication can break down.
Although there is no way to eliminate the stress inherent in such difficult discussions, good communication techniques can help parents and their adult children navigate their challenges effectively.
“When adult children learn how to communicate with their aging parents, both the parents and children can appreciate one another and connect during the final stages of the parent’s life,” said Andrew Hook, a Virginia attorney who specializes in estate planning.
Because they are at different developmental stages, adult children and their elderly parents often approach problems from different perspectives. Middle-aged adults focus on accomplishing tasks and taking care of their responsibilities, and they are, typically, future-oriented. In contrast, older adults often struggle with a loss of independence, and they wish to retain what independence they can regardless of given tasks. Older adulthood is also a period of reflection on one’s life and its significance.
Difficult subjects should be approached at a scheduled, planned time when both parties are calm and have time to discuss the issue. Adult children should listen to the parent’s thoughts and ideas with an open mind and the goal of understanding and meeting the parent’s needs. A respectful tone is essential, and it is best to return to the subject at another time if either party becomes too agitated.
Honesty about thoughts and feelings can help to resolve disputes. When speaking about one’s feelings, it is important to use “I” statements and to avoid taking a defensive or accusatory tone.
Finally, caregivers need to take care of themselves. Rest, support and a solid life balance help adult children find the emotional energy to tackle tough subjects with their parents.