Having Difficult Conversations with Your Aging Parents

When Elder Law is a primary focuses of your law practice, you often have clients come to you to discuss their aging parents.
They start seeing the signs:

  • the yard is not being cared for
  • the house is in disrepair and is not the neat and tidy home you are used to seeing
  • the refrigerator is full of food that is spoiled or expired

And it is not just the most recent visit, they have been noticing a pattern. It is inevitable that this time would come.
The most frequent questions are:

  • How do you start this difficult conversation?
  • How do you respect the fact that your parents see themselves as the parents and you as the child?
  • How do you approach their fear of losing control of their lives?

The answer is: use the same methods your parents used when you were a teenager to get a conversation going.
Most important ask open ended questions such as:

  • How are things going around the house?
  • How was your trip to the store?
  • How’s the car been running lately?

The key is to then listen to their answers. Pay attention to what they are expressing directly and indirectly. Use their answers to open the conversation further. Often the key to conversing with parents is to treat them like the adults they are. Again, think of how your parents helped you as a teenager and be open to what they have to say. Make it clear that you are on their team and you want to work with them for their best future. Finally, don’t judge. See if you can understand where your parents are coming from. Remember that everyone is struggling. Your parents are doing the best they can with the resources they have at the moment. Be a resource.

If you do feel it is necessary to move your parents into an assisted living facility or nursing home, call an elder law attorney or Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman & Sale at 505-872-0505 to discuss options.