When it’s time to talk about senior care options for parents or other aging relatives, conversations on the phone or during family gatherings can quickly turn to gossip. Perhaps we only think of gossip as something that teenagers or housewives engage in, but a web dictionary spells it out this way: “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”
There are certainly many occasions where this type of senior care conversation takes place. We don’t know how to bring up the difficult subject at hand, so we talk in hushed tones about Dad while he’s still in the room or presume to know what’s best for Mom without asking first. What should occur instead are positive, constructive discussions that include the individual(s) who are the focal point of it.
Consider these tips:
1. Schedule a time to talk as an (immediate) family, and preferably in-person, rather than over the phone. Do not have any discussions with other family members about options prior to this first conversation.
2. Ask questions. The best way to find out what your parents want is to ask them directly.
3. Get outside help. If you find that you cannot agree on a solution, bring in an unbiased professional (like a geriatric care manager) to weigh in, share insights, and make recommendations.