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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.

Resources:

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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