A vital part of having family in your life is caring for them as they age. Your parents, more specifically, often become your responsibility later in life. It’s a natural process that thousands manage successfully every day, but there is no “how to” layout for talking with your elderly parents about their declining state.
It can be quite challenging to approach the subject with your parents, for obvious reasons. Try researching the topic before approaching the conversation with your loved ones, and check out a few helpful tips for navigating the interaction.
Talk to them on a face to face level
When you’re planning to have a very somber conversation with your parents, you need to show that you respect them. Your body language is a very important factor of successful communication.
Set the conversation in a way that you are on your parents’ physical eye level. Standing or towering over them during the conversation suggests that you are attempting to dominate them, and you could perceivably ostracized them with your dominant body language.
Empathize with their struggle
During the conversation, be empathetic to the struggles your parents face. There is no way for you to truly understand how they feel, but you need to show that you care. These are your parents, and you love them. Treat them as such, even if their old age had made them crass.
Make sure they feel like this is their conversation too
While talking with your parents about upcoming details of their lives, you have to make them know that they are a part of this conversation. Your parents need to know that their wishes are being honored.
You will approach the subject of their death and what to do afterward. You will approach whether or not to place your parents in a nursing home. These are extremely personal decisions that should be carefully approached.
Don’t wait until it’s too late
The worst mistake you can make is to wait until your parents are too far gone to make these vital decisions for themselves. Talk to your parents while they are still lucid and in their whole mind, or you could be making all the decisions yourself.
Gather the family together
Talking with your parents about elderly life decisions is something that should be done with all of the nuclear family. Gather your siblings together, and approach the situation as a cohesive unit.
Everyone in the family should be present for the conversation, so there’s no squabbling about what was and was not stated. You don’t want to be fighting with sibling over frivolous things in the event of your parents’ passing.