Barbara's Blog

How to talk so they can listen…

Caregiving requires many conversations that may be uncomfortable for your elderly parent or loved one. As a caregiver, you can facilitate conversations with less friction by keeping some key points in mind.

Stay on Topic – First don’t take anything personally. Your loved one may not be completely receptive to everything you have to say, so keep the tone calm and gentle. Don’t argue. It will just lead the conversation off topic. Remember to pick your battles carefully.

Listen – Next you must listen and give the elderly ample time to speak. They need time to gather their thoughts and reflect on your ideas. Bring up a crucial topic several times in a low key manner. Be prepared to listen to their point of view, and look for matters of agreement.

Control – Let mom know that you want to help her retain control for as long as possible. By having open discussions, her wishes can be known and documented. Out of love and safety, all topics from finances to end-of-life should be addressed for the benefit of the whole family. The cost of putting off these conversations is too high to ignore.

Conversation Starters -You can start the conversation with, “I am starting to put together my financial plan… what does yours look like? Come with me to visit a financial planner.” Use other people’s stories to illustrate you points. Share with them a friend’s financial story or share a story from Stuck in the Middle. Sometimes elderly people can hear someone else’s problem more easily than their own. Assure them that you only want to help and honor their wishes.

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