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Difficult Aging Conversations

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Experts have said that by the time you're approaching 40 and a loved one is around 70, you should have had the "talk" about issues so many families want to avoid. The Home Instead Senior Care network refers to that as the 40-70 Rule®.

These conversations aren't always easy, and often, barriers and hurdles can get in the way of important family conversations about a variety of topics such as living and financial choices, health, relationships and dating, driving and end of life.

Seniors may fear loss of independence, which could include giving up on certain freedoms such as driving. Families may be concerned about the cost of receiving assistance at home or moving to a care community, or not even aware of the different options.

Home Instead Senior Care and communication expert Jake Harwood, Ph.D., from the University of Arizona, have tips to help family caregivers communicate with their aging parents on sensitive subjects

Get Started.

If you're 40 or your parents are 70, it's time to start observing and gathering information carefully and thoughtfully. Don't reach a conclusion from a single observation and decide on the best solution until you have gathered information with an open mind and talked with your parents.

Talk it out.

Approach your parents with a conversation. Discuss what you've observed and ask your parents what they think is going on. If your parents acknowledge the situation, ask what they think would be good solutions. If your parents don't recognize a problem, use concrete examples to support your case.

Sooner is best.

Talk sooner rather than later when a crisis has occurred. If you know your loved one has poor eyesight or has trouble driving at night, begin to address those issues before a problem arises.

Forget the Baby Talk

Remember you are talking to an adult, not a child. Patronizing speech or baby talk will put older adults on the defensive and convey a lack of respect for them. Put yourself in your parents' shoes and think of how you would want to be addressed in the situation.

Maximize the Independence.

Always try to move toward solutions that provide the maximum amount of independence for the older person. Look for answers that optimize strengths and compensate for problems. For instance, if your loved ones need help at home, look for tools that can help them maintain their strengths. Professional caregiving services, such as those offered by Home Instead Senior Care, provide assistance in a number of areas including meal preparation, light housekeeping or medication reminders. Or find friends who can help.

Be aware of the whole situation.

If your dad dies and soon afterward your mom's house seems to be in disarray, it's probably not because she suddenly became ill. It's much more likely to stem from a lack of social support and the loss of a life-long relationship. Make sure that your mom has friends and a social life.

Ask for Help

Many of the issues of aging can be solved by providing parents with the support they need to continue to maintain their independence. Resources such as Home Instead Senior Care, Area Agencies on Aging and local senior centers can help provide those solutions.

​You can learn more at www.4070Talk.com. 

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