Some topics are not easy to talk about. They might not be easy or very comfortable to discuss from your perspective (talking to someone else), or they might not be comfortable to hear. Elder care may be one of those topics older Americans have trouble listening about when an adult child, spouse, or another person they love brings it up.
If you’re in this situation, wondering how you could talk about elder care with someone you love, but you aren’t certain they’ll be all that receptive to the topic, there are a few key steps that you could take to pave the way toward a better approach.
Remember, the person who is having trouble with their life due to age or other factors is probably stressing about what they’ve lost and what they could lose in the future. It’s not that the topic of elder care is coming from you, but the reality of what they experience, see, and fear every day that drives them at this time.
So let’s discuss some great ways to at least bridge the gap and began talking about elder care topics.
1. Focus on their wants and needs.
While you may see the struggle and worry about their safety, nothing should trump their rights to independence and autonomy. Even if they can’t get along safely without physical assistance and support, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to be safe.
Instead of focusing on the struggle, turn the intention of the conversation to their wants and needs. Ask them directly things such as, “What would you like to do these days, if you were still able?”
Some seniors will respond with derision or sarcasm, but most will be honest. They may not think those things are still possible due to their health, physical challenges, or other circumstances, but with the right type of elder care, they could very well still be.
Plus, when you focus on their wants and needs, you bring them into the conversation, the topic of elder care. They’d be curious to see whether some elder care might be able to make them happen, still.
2. Listen to what they have to say.
It’s all too easy to assume you know best, that you see things so much clearer than they do, but while they could be true, the senior should have their opinions listened to.
Communication is not a one-way street. It is a two-way road and far too often we neglect the most potent communication tool there is: listening.
When the senior does speak, listen. What are they saying? What are they worried about? The more you listen, the more you hear the truth hidden within the framework of the conversation. June is Effective Communications Month and don’t overlook the importance of listening.
3. Be prepared.
If you don’t have a clue what elder care is or the options available, then you won’t be an effective communicator. Gather information and when you do, you’ll be able to answer questions honestly. That’s a great start.