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Difficult Conversations – Part 2

One of the hardest conversations with Mom & Dad: It all begins

Part II

You’ve made the decision to begin the conversations with your parent(s). Now, you’ve got to create the environment for this talk. First, reflect on the “why” behind your conversation and what the goals & action items will be. Think about how your parent(s) may react and be ready to respectfully handle it. Determine what the level of need is for your parent(s). Is it urgent that they move soon? Or is this something that can be postponed until they are ready? Finally, establishing a clear understanding of the wants and needs will help to better clarify what you want to express to Mom & Dad. Let’s focus on two key recommendations to help you begin this journey:

Make sure everyone is on the same page
If siblings, family members or friends are involved in the conversation, make sure everyone has an aligned understanding of the situation. This might mean a separate conversation with each one of them beforehand. Discussing this with them may feel like you are going behind your parents’ back or betraying them in some way. But this is not the case as it’s better to approach this conversation by having an idea of how the conversation is going to flow. Everyone will also be clear on the goals & objectives for the initial conversation. This will decrease the likelihood of people jumping to their emotions or having different ideas about what should take place. You don’t want your Mom or Dad to feel attacked in any way but in contrast, you want them to feel that everyone has their best interests at heart. Review with involved individuals that this not about your parent(s) immediately agreeing to pack their bags but that this is a series of conversations leading up to a decision. If an incident has already taken place and the need for assisted living is more urgent, let the group express both their love and fears so that it is understood why the family is coming together for this conversation. If you decide to have this exchange alone, just you and your parent(s), that is also fine but you may still want to let family know about the conversation you are planning. Oftentimes you are not the only person in the group that believes this conversation needs to happen and by having someone to role play or bounce ideas with can be helpful when you sit down with your parent(s).

Choose a comfortable place for the talk
Select a place where everyone is comfortable and naturally at ease. Be sure that outside influences or interruptions aren’t going to impact the course of the dialogue. Plus, it’s going to be a difficult talk and you want to make sure that your parent is in a peaceful, relaxing environment. It’s also critical that you have enough time for the conversation. Remember that this may take longer than planned, so clearing your schedule completely for that day should be considered. You don’t want to be forced to stop a rolling conversation because you have dinner plans or need to pick up the kids. And while your parent may understand that you have prior obligations, leaving before the conversation is thoroughly discussed can leave your parent feeling as though their needs are a chore or another item to cross off your to-do list.

Once you have a date, time, place and group together with clear goals & objectives, you’re on your way to a successful dialogue. You can finally sit down with confidence and discuss the needs, wants and concerns for their well-being and lifestyle.

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