The Talk – Aging Parents

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We always thought the “sex talk” was a challenge.  Maybe so, but talking to our parents and elder friends about their life changes as adults trumps the sex in spades!

It’s a sensitive yet very real matter of import – you have to find a way,

just like they did when cornering you about sex, drugs, and rock & roll.


Two Perspectives: Us and Them

Our perspective guides our decisions.  True for you; true for your parents.


You See:

  1. People who forget a few too many things – creating a safety concern
  2. Too much distance between households – helping out daily seems impossible
  3. Stubborn resistance or ‘shut down” when you suggest any change for them

They See:

  1. Forgetfulness – you are not the only one; but admitting is a slippery slope
  2. Threat to lifestyle – fear of losing what they love and know. Worse: “what next”
  3. Loss of independence – this covers everything from decisions to mobility


How to Help – 3 Things to Remember

This is a delicate and slow path of patience and empathy.  But you can do it.  And there are a million resources you can draw upon.  Not everything will be accepted or work in the moment, but maybe later in the process you cycle back to an earlier idea for them and it works.

  1. Maintain respect for independent decision – theirs – but listen hard, and guide
  2. Create chances for testing – the unknown is fearful; help them test a few options
  3. See long term, talk and show in the moment, and stay adaptable


Quick Start Tips

  1. Identify the stuff in their life that gives them joy – make it a priority anchor
  2. Identify the task they do not like to do – agree to hire help for task
  3. Identify the safety issues, find a non-intrusive fix and simply implement.  These must be small…like a different shower head and a bench system which they are free to explore.


With the long term vision – keep your options open for closing the distance gap.  Work towards that time by starting to simplify now – a slow de-clutter with professional help is actually very empowering.

Laurie Bell, Moving Seniors with a Smile, Inc.