According to PBS, 54 percent of parents would rather talk to their children about sex than aging. It is very common for aging Parents not to want to talk about declining health and dying, especially to their children. For so many years, your parents were the strongest, smartest, most wise people on earth—in your young mind anyways. While your worldview probably grew in the decades since you were a child, the child-parent dynamic can be hard to shake, and for both sides. Parents want to seem capable and confident in front of their children, and their children, who still deep down inside often view their parents as the ultimate role models, do not want to embarrass their parents by letting them know that they are no longer mentally fit to be managing their own finances.
Process Your Feelings Before Talking
Think about and process your own feelings before you engage in a difficult conversation with your parent. Whether it is about Mom or Dad needing to move into an assisted living facility or the necessity that you become his or her legal guardian, it is often extremely beneficial for everyone involved. You can process your emotions before the conversation takes place, instead of overreacting and letting your anger, fear, or sympathy get in the way of rational decision making. Tips for making sure that your anger does not hijack the conversation include the following, according to Psychology Today:
- Do not raise your voice;
- Talk about your feelings before you get angry;
- Do not let past events “stockpile” and blow your anger out of proportion; and
- Do not take insults or your parent’s frustration as threats to your relationship.
Plan the Conversation Out in Your Mind Ahead of Time
As with any difficult and potentially contentious conversation, planning it out ahead of time in your mind is a good option for discussions with aging parents. Think about what the goal of the discussion is, what potential negatives and positives go along with certain routes of actions, and how your parent will react to what you say. Having a plan will help keep the conversation on track, and away from devolving into a broad argument. Having a plan will increase the chances that the talk will be productive, and that you have thought about the situation from your parents’ side of the picture and can therefore empathize with their needs, wants, and concerns.
Call Maryland Elder Law Attorney Tara K. Frame Today
One of the best ways to have complicated conversations with a parent who gets confused easily or has dementia is to have already had that conversation years before when they were younger. Talking about legal guardianship, wills, power of attorney, advanced healthcare directives, and trusts is complex enough even for a fully able-minded adult, nevermind an aging parent who is struggling with Alzheimer’s. This is why having these discussions when your parent is younger and healthier, possibly numerous discussions in fact, is the best practice. If you have not had any of these conversations with your parent in the past, an attorney can help you with more ways to talk to your aging parent so that their best interests are adhered to. Call Frame & Frame today at 410-255-0373.