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Difficult Conversations – Part 3

One of the hardest conversations with Mom & Dad: Smooth sailing…

Part III

Let’s wrap up this blog series with guidance on how to make these conversations as smooth as possible. As you have this conversation with your Mom and/or Dad, there are 4 things that you can do to ensure the best possible experience.

Be empathetic
Empathy means to identify with feelings, thoughts, attitudes of another. Understanding Mom or Dad’s emotions is crucial. Listening and acknowledging what they are expressing is just as meaningful. The ideas that come along with assisted living facilities are not always positive and you want to hear Mom and/or Dad out on this subject. Let them speak and do not take over the conversation, remember you are their partner and value their input throughout this process.

Ask open-ended questions
To really hear and understand what is being expressed, you need to ask open-ended questions. An open-ended question requires a substantial and thought out response. It is not a ‘yes or no question’ but asks your parent(s) to really think about their feelings, wants, and needs. Asking your parent, throughout the conversation, how they feel about certain aspects of their life and what they feel they need help with, will provide better insight to what is needed and what to look for in a facility. But also, it will help you to recognize where you need to support your parent(s) in this transition. It can uncover that maybe while you have been grocery shopping or driving them around, what they also needed was someone to watch TV with or have lunch with on a regular basis. Asking open-ended questions and listening to their answers will reveal valuable information regarding companionship or independence. Ultimately, it can help the family find the best fit facility for the long-run.

Reflect upon what you learned
Once you have listened with an empathic ear and asked the necessary questions, you should review and reflect on what was said. Since this is a series of conversations over time, the initial conversation will need to be picked up again at a later time. Finishing the conversation with a review of what has been said and accomplished can make the conversation easier to pick up again later. With a constant review of different wants, needs and concerns, you and your parent can come to a decision together. Once the conversation is over, you might realize that what may have been important while you were sitting in front of each other may seem miniscule and irrelevant when you are thinking about this alone.

Offer guidance and help
Keep in mind that while you may have already done a ton of research and have a list of facilities, this should not be brought up until the second or third conversation. The first conversation should really focus on thoughts, emotions, needs and wants. The following conversations can include going over a list of facilities and making plans to tour the narrowed down list. Offer up your time to research and visit places together. Also, set aside a time to discuss the pros and cons of places after you’ve toured each one. And always remember, throughout this process, to remind your parent(s) that you will be there before, during and after this transition. Let them know that you love and respect them and this transition is for their wellbeing and livelihood, because you want them to have a long, healthy & happy life.

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