“The Talk” How Do I Broach the Subject?

In this series of articles, Mike Campbell, author of When Mom and Dad Need Help, explains what to do when it’s time to talk to your aging parents about the variety of senior care options.

How Do I Broach the Subject?


By Mike Campbell

I’ll give you four great tips to having “The Talk” with your parents.

1. Be honest and direct with your parents

Ask your parents’ permission to discuss the topic with them. A couple of good examples to open with: “I’d like to talk with you about how you’d like to be cared for if you got really sick and were unable to care for yourself anymore. Is that okay?” Or, “If you ever got really sick, I’d be afraid of not knowing what kind of care you’d prefer. Could we talk about this now? I’d feel better if we did.”

2. Be a good listener

As my grandmother used to say, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Hear what your parents are saying without interrupting, giving your opinion, or telling them what to do. Rather than offer advice, let them work things out for themselves as they talk. As a good listener, you can help your parents explore their situation by asking them open-ended, non-threatening questions like “What specifically concerns you about moving into a retirement community Mom?” or “How do you feel about this Dad?”

3. Take advantage of opportunities that may arise to help break the ice

For example, a perfect opportunity to discuss your parents’ future housing and care needs would be when one of their friends or family members suffers a traumatic event that requires them to consider senior housing, care or assistance. Bring up some “What if?” scenarios: What if Mom couldn’t get up and down the stairs anymore like Mrs. Smith? What if Dad couldn’t drive anymore like Mr. Jones? What if both of you suddenly needed help with certain activities of daily living? What would your wishes be if you could no longer live at home without assistance? Are you aware of the different housing and care options? Have you thought about how you’ll pay for such housing and care? Tell your parents how much you love them and how you’re willing to work with them together to find answers to these tough questions.

4. Never make promises

This is probably the most important tip of all! Never make promises to your parents such as “We’ll never put you in a nursing home” or “You can always come and live with us, we’ll take care of you.” Circumstances change over time, and what may seem like the best solution now may not be the best solution years from now. Unfulfilled promises can only result in extreme guilt, anxiety, and pain.

Remember—The open communication you have with your parents today will be the “key” to your caregiving experience tomorrow. This initial communication is the all-important first step that will allow you the freedom to have further conversations with parents about the subject; and, these initial conversations will hopefully result in both of you researching and developing your own individual plans for handling those future long-term care needs.

Start the learning process about senior care options and other ways to approach your loved ones, call (866) 662-0435  to speak to your local SeniorLiving.Net Care Advisor.

Stay tuned for more of Mike’s suggestions and advice when it comes to talking to your parent about senior care, ways to approach the subject of long term care with your parent and paying for long term care.