For all of us, there comes a time when we have to have “the conversation” with our parents. The moment usually follows an accident or change in health status that will affect lifestyle. Topics can include driving, personal appearance, “senior moments,” managing finances, home safety … just to name a few.
None of this is ever easy, especially with parents, because many of the most common issues touch on independence. Statistically, 31% of baby boomers have problems communicating with parents, stemming mainly from the peculiar dynamics of parent-child roles. Things can get awkward and volatile, and it’s particularly challenging to have a peer-to-peer conversation with parents if you are the youngest child. My mom used to tell me, “as long as I’m around, I’m the mother and you’re the child.” That was a difficult statement to hear when I needed to have “the conversation.”
Unfortunately, this situation can lead to avoidance and delays in necessary lifestyle changes, often until the onset of an emergency. You want to take constructive and prudent steps before that happens.
There is a wonderful publication called “The 40-70 Rule: A Guide to Conversation Starters for Boomers and Their Senior Loved Ones.” This guide was prepared by Jake Harwood, Ph.D., national author and the former director of the University of Arizona’s graduate program in gerontology, based on his research on communication and aging.
If you feel the occasion for “a conversation” is drawing near, I would definitely recommend reading this useful booklet. You can download the guide and find additional information on the 40-70 Rule by visiting the Websitewww.4070talk.com. Also try the Home Instead Senior Care site atwww.homeinstead.com. It’s loaded with resources for finding home care, becoming a caregiver and other elder care resources.
The first step to the solution is defining the problem. Then be prepared and approach the “conversation” tactfully. Ask questions and avoid being judgmental. Above all, initiate this delicate but necessary process in a timely way.