The children of aging parents face many challenges. Communicating is frequently at the top of the list. Here are three tips for you to share with the children of an aging parent:
- Don’t argue with Mom or Dad when they say “no” to any suggestions. Change the subject and move on. Depending on the issue, bring up what you want to accomplish again. But, next time, have a different family member do it. Research has reported that the “in-laws” can have a higher success rate because the elder has never experienced them as a child.
- If you are trying to convince a family member with dementia of some fact that is not important, let go of it! Who cares if something happened on July 30 or October 1. When you agree with them, they feel better about themselves. It doesn’t really matter what the “right” answer is. What is important is preserving self-esteem.
- If a parent is living in a dangerous situation that is unsafe for a variety of reasons, the adult child will have to choose a place for that parent based on their values. To get them to move, tell them it is only temporary, until you can remodel or retrofit the existing house. Based on the long term needs of your parent, they may or may not complete the task. Using a “therapeutic fiblet” is sometimes the only way (outside of a legal intervention) to get the result you need.
Teaching your clients or the adult children of your client how to communicate to reduce resistance is a valuable tool for you to give and for the family to receive.