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Aging Wisely October 2016 - Aging Wisely

Talking to Aging Parents About Assisted Living and Care Concerns


talking to aging parents about assisted living

Our experts are often called upon to help families discuss difficult topics. We work with many adult children on how to approach these subjects, how to be prepared for the discussions, and what not to do. Many times our care managers even help to mediate such discussions.

Today, we’ll delve into talking to aging parents about assisted living, getting help at home, and your worries about their health or memory problems.

How to Talk to Aging Parents about Health or Care Concerns

Many families we talk to tell us that their loved one denies any concerns about their health or care needs. Adult children sometimes find it hard to get any information out of Mom or Dad about their health or doctor’s appointments. Others have long conversations filled with health complaints but may become frustrated when their solutions are repeatedly rebuffed.

The first step in talking to aging parents about such concerns is early involvement and regular communication. Be prepared with proper advance care/legal documents. Make sure your parent has completed paperwork with their medical providers permitting access to their health information (and/or has an updated Florida Healthcare Surrogate Designation permitting the designee to receive protected health information and help with decisions at any time). Discuss who will help and how this might work. If possible, start attending some doctor’s appointments with your loved one (or hire a care manager to attend and coordinate). This helps you to better understand their health picture and spot changes early.

As things change or specific concerns arise, don’t wait to have the conversations. Discussing options early and planning ahead gives you some peace of mind and provides your parent with more control. When it’s time to have these conversations, set aside plenty of time to talk. Allow your parent to share their feelings and have input. Come prepared with resources and ideas.

If you are having trouble with health conversations, try to schedule/attend a doctor’s appointment with your parent. If possible, fax or email a letter to the doctor explaining what you’ve observed and your questions. Regarding care needs, an objective care management assessment can help and a care manager can approach the client as an ally.

Talking to Aging Parents about Memory Problems

This is very similar to discussing other health problems or care needs, but with added sensitivity. It can also be more difficult if your loved one has cognitive problems which make it hard to remember or process the discussions.

It is best to approach this with sensitivity and simple, concrete examples. Suggest an evaluation as a way to make sure everything is okay. Don’t create unnecessary fear by pre-diagnosing the problem. A memory clinic or specialist is best for this type of evaluation, and should also be sensitive in dealing with the patient. The evaluation gives you the best starting point for discussions about what needs to be done next.

Talking to Aging Parents about Assisted Living or Home Care

Closely tied in with the above issues is the need to discuss getting some help. You’ve likely already spotted some concerns if you’re reading this, but here are some important signs your aging parent needs help.

Make note of these concerns and the areas where you think your aging parent could use some help. They may see things differently, so listen to them for clues as to what worries/bothers them. Maybe you worry about Dad’s safety, but he worries about shopping and cooking meals. Mom’s personal care may be in decline but perhaps she fears keeping up with the household tasks or wants help driving to her church group at night. When talking to aging parents about assisted living, focus on the positives that can make life better based on what matters to them.

To be prepared for talking to your parents about getting help, we highly recommend Ten Ways to Convince Parents to Accept Home Care Assistance. Personalize the approach to your situation and your parents’ personality and motivations.

Talking to aging parents about assisted living brings up a whole host of emotional and practical issues. The home itself has a lot of meaning and history. Your parents may feel overwhelmed with the process of moving…and rightly so. Tackle one aspect of the conversation at a time and come prepared to help with the logistics.

You’d be amazed how often a small logistical issue or practicality is the biggest sticking point in moving. So, be sure to listen carefully and don’t dismiss anything your parent says. Don’t try to handle selecting and moving to assisted living by yourselves. Bring in some help for the myriad tasks, from selling the home and belongings to picking the right place and reviewing the contract, to the specific tasks of moving day and ensuring a smooth transition.

Contact us for help with talking to your aging parents about assisted living and other concerns. Our care managers can also guide you through transitions, offer resources, and coordinate the process of moving to assisted living or hiring home care.

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How to Talk to Aging Parents About Sensitive Subjects


how to talk to aging parents

Our experts offer you advice on how to talk to aging parents about anything, with specific tips and resources for discussing various issues with Mom and Dad. Check out our previous articles about timing the conversations and how to talk to aging parents who don’t want to listen or admit anything is wrong. Today, we tackle some of the toughest subjects you need to bring up with your parents.

How to Talk to Aging Parents about Driving

Many seniors see driving as a source of independence. Giving up driving means giving up freedom and symbolizes loss and decline. All of these things can be very true without proper planning.

It is vital to have resources and plans for what will happen “post driving” before you even approach this subject. Be realistic about options and think of the person’s perspective. Don’t make your Mom or Dad solely dependent on you or neighbors/friends for rides. Remember the freedom aspect of driving. Depending on where you live, there are many transportation options. These include public transit (often with elder/disabled programs and discounts), Uber and similar “on demand” services, private drivers and home care companions.

The first step in the driving conversation is observing your parent driving (perhaps with the help of others who drive with them). Note the specific concerns and explain objectively. You may want to engage a trusted professional. Your parent’s doctor may be helpful (or not). You can hire a care manager to arrange an assessment. The care manager can help with post-driving resources and guide the discussion.


Taking Away The Car Keys: what to do when your loved one may not be able to drive anymore (discussion tips and pointers, and how to report an elderly driver if conversations are not working)

Keeping Us Safe offers a Beyond Driving with Dignity Workbook and self-assessment tools

How to Talk to Aging Parents about Finances

Money might be a taboo subject in your family, but it’s a central reality to aging and care needs. If you need to step in to help your aging parents, would you even know where to begin? Many families feel it’s not appropriate to discuss what they have. Some parents fear relatives taking advantage of the situation. Obviously, these conversations need to start with a relationship of trust. Otherwise, it may be necessary to put other plans into place.

At a minimum, the person(s) who will be designated to help needs to know how to access information. Your parents need to execute the necessary legal documents, particularly a durable power of attorney. Ideally, you should have an idea of the financial picture. Money has a big effect on any other care conversations. It determines what options are available and what benefits you need to seek.

Broach this subject with sensitivity and don’t rush things. Perhaps you can start by offering to help your parent get organized, explain you need to know who to contact and what’s been set up. Ask if your parent would consider setting up online access to accounts. It may be easiest to discuss specific issues (executing or reviewing the durable power of attorney, estate planning, long-term care insurance, VA benefits, etc.).

Take an approach based on your parent’s style. If your parent tends to be very practical about money, simply explaining the need may work. Some parents have great respect for experts, so their financial advisor or attorney could be an ally. Your parent might listen to a particular sibling about money matters. An article from a respected publication or bringing up your own planning can spur the discussion.

Stay tuned for more tips next week! We’ll offer advice on discussing care needs, memory problems, and health issues. Join us on Facebook for our latest articles, plus bonus tips and aging wisely advice.

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The Difficult Conversations: Talking to Elderly Parents in Denial


We previously shared our advice on timing for talking to elderly parents about difficult topics. But, no matter when you talk about things, some elderly parents just don’t want to hear what you have to say. What do you do when talking to elderly parents leads nowhere? What can you do if Dad simply says, “I’m fine. Leave me alone.”?

talking to elderly parents who don't want to listen

Talking to Elderly Parents Who Say There’s Nothing to Talk About

  • You may not get anywhere today, but don’t give up. Sometimes it is best to leave the subject alone if it’s not a crisis and return to it later. We always advise that talking to elderly parents is a process, not a one-time chat. This is especially true for parents who don’t think anything is wrong.
  • Come prepared. Speak about what you’ve observed and be honest about your worries. Do some homework so you know some options.
  • Explain that the idea is to prevent consequences your parent does not want. Doing nothing is a choice, with repercussions. A person who gets a little help at home may avoid an early move to the nursing home. A regular checkup could catch something before it becomes debilitating.
  • Gather allies. Talk to siblings ahead of time, and try to get on the same page. If the concerns primarily revolve around one parent, does your other parent/the spouse agree? Don’t go into the conversation ignoring key influencers. They can quickly undermine the situation (or be your ally). A third party can be useful especially if you aren’t getting anywhere. A pastor, your parent’s trusted doctor, or a geriatric care manager can help lead or mediate the conversations.
  • Use stories or examples with positive outcomes. Take the chance to talk about your own planning or what’s been happening with a neighbor or friend.
  • Try to figure out what your parent fears or what motivates them.
  • Don’t let “windows of opportunity” pass by. Temporary help after a hospitalization or illness can give your parent a chance to get used to the situation. Denial can be a useful defense mechanism as we face loss, so the way we word or approach things can help ease the pain of loss.
  • Get our free download, “Help, Mom Won’t Listen to Me!” for more tips.

But, what happens when I’ve tried everything and they just won’t listen?

You can gently, but firmly set your own boundaries. If your parent refuses to do anything, it can be you facing the consequences and dealing with the crisis. Explain what you can and cannot (and will not) do. Offer them options, but try to avoid swooping in to save the day if they refuse help.

We know this is VERY difficult advice to practice. It can be very useful in such situations to talk to a geriatric care manager or counselor. We’ve worked with caregivers who later told us this was the biggest lifesaver for them. You may need emotional support in order to do this and deal with all your feelings about it. Siblings and other parties involved may also make you feel extremely guilty.

You may need to have your parent evaluated if memory or cognitive issues are at play. Adults do have the right to make poor decisions, but there may be a question of competency, undue influence or self-neglect. If the person is endangered, the situation may result in a call to DCF and/or guardianship proceedings.

We truly understand how tough it can be talking to elderly parents. Especially when they don’t want to hear it! Fortunately, we’ve had experience working with thousands of families dealing with many issues and personalities. Contact us anytime to discuss your concerns and find out how we can help.

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Talking to Aging Parents: Your Timing, Approach, and More


talking to aging parents at the holidays

Talking to aging parents about sensitive subjects puts fear in the hearts of many adult children. You may realize it’s time to discuss your concerns for their wellbeing, the need for care, money issues, or worries about Dad’s driving or Mom’s failing memory. But, how do you begin the conversation? When should you bring up these issues (and when shouldn’t you)? Talking to aging parents can be a bit easier with these tips from our experts about the timing, approach, and resources to assist.

Best (and Worst) Timing for Talking to Aging Parents

First, let’s get the worst timing for talking to aging parents out of the way so you can avoid the mistakes. The holidays are one of the worst possible times to start difficult conversations. However, many adult children choose holidays for talking to aging parents because it is when they happen to be together or have some time away from work. Holidays are sensitive times and people tend to be stressed. You can use this time with your elderly parents/relatives wisely…here’s what our experts suggest instead of using this time for talking to aging parents about your concerns.

And, don’t wait for a crisis to begin talking to aging parents about these issues! In a crisis, there’s no time to allow for a natural conversation and airing of thoughts and feelings. There’s also no time to plan so options become limited.

The best time is now…sooner, than later and on an ongoing basis. Don’t try to cram the whole conversation into one half-hour visit. Take your time, and allow conversations to unfold naturally and in relation to situations they may see their friends or others facing. If you have come to a crisis point or have a pressing issue, don’t try to suddenly tackle every possible concern. Prioritize what needs to be dealt with today.

How to Approach Talking with Aging Parents About Sensitive Subjects

  • Think about your parent’s personality, priorities, and style. What things matter to him/her? Think about past conversations (or lack thereof). How did your parent approach you when they needed to give you advice or talk about something sensitive with you? Does Dad have a practical outlook and prefer to know the points (and costs) of all options? Or, does Dad like to use analogies or anecdotes?
  • Plan sufficient time to talk so you can listen patiently to your loved one’s feelings and concerns. Consider this an ongoing conversation.
  • Share your feelings and concerns. Don’t dredge up the past or try to approach a wide variety of subjects. Stick to specific concerns and things you’ve observed. Don’t try to tell your parents what they “need to do”. As shared in a great NPR story on this topic, “Mothers can never resist their children when their children simply bare their hearts…tell her you need her help, in order for you to help her.”
  • Offer possible solutions. Do your homework, come prepared with information. Offer choices so that your parents have the opportunity to exercise control over the situation.
  • Have an aging parent who simply says “there’s no problem” or “everything’s fine”? We’ll share more about how to talk with an aging parent who is in denial in our next post. We’ll also share more about talking to aging parents about specific topics (and resources for each).

Resources for Talking to Aging Parents


Seven Ways to Talk to Your Parents About Getting Help

Aging Wisely’s fact sheets and checklists covering many specific eldercare topics

Talk Early, Talk Often: Step-by-step guides: Set the TEMPO; Be a Partner, Not Their Parent


Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders and How to Say it To Seniors are two of the best books on talking to aging parents. They will really help you see your parents’ perspective better so you can approach the conversations with more understanding.

Get Personalized Help Today:

Consider a consultation with an Aging Life Care Manager. You can discuss your concerns to get advice on how to approach the situation and what options are available. Contact us to make an appointment or find out more.

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VA Benefits Workshop


VA benefits: thank you veterans

FREE Seminar:

What exactly are VA benefits and what can I expect?

December 13th , 1:00-2:30 PM

Join Board Certified Elder Law Attorney, Linda Chamberlain, as she explains VA benefits, including the most common VA benefits received by our clients. She will share the types of VA benefits, the eligibility process, what to expect during the process and when you receive benefits, and important tips for identifying and getting your Veterans benefits. Linda and our team have helped thousand of Veterans, and she’s here to provide the inside scoop to make things easier for you. This workshop will help you understand and navigate your benefits. We thank all Veterans for their service and we appreciate the opportunity to help you with accessing the benefits you deserve!

Friends and clients welcome. Questions encouraged.

Call to reserve your seat  TODAY (seating limited to 20). RSVP to 727-447-5845 or

Download the VA Benefits Workshop flyer to print or share with someone you know who might benefit.

*Informational materials presented are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal problems.

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Payment Concerns
Not sure how you are going to pay for elder care?

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Find out if its time to seek help for your loved one.

Aging in Place
How to keep a loved one safe at home, and when it may be time to consider assisted living.

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