Talking to Parents About Help

Issues to Consider When Talking to Parents

What it means to help them.

Having The Help Talk is as easy as having The Driving Talk—meaning it’s not easy at all. People want to be independent. They don’t like admitting that they can’t take care of themselves. They may worry that they are being a burden, depleting their kids’ inheritance money, or can’t afford it.

Unless you are paying for their help, knowing their finances will inform the amount and type of help you get (i.e. agency vs. another way).

The right approach.

Approaching the Talking to Parents About Help conversation is similar to that of The Driving Talk—pick the right time, place and person to discuss the topic and do research beforehand. Most importantly, listen to what your parent has to say. This is their life! If they don’t have cognitive or safety issues, make sure you aren’t telling them what to do.

Would one of your siblings be a better choice or is your parent more likely to respond if it’s someone outside the family, such as their physician?

Pick a time that is best for your family member. Is it in the morning or after they’ve eaten breakfast rather than at the end of the day when they may be tired? Is it during a quiet walk together? Don’t start this serious talk when they’re overly stimulated by competing activities, the TV or the radio.

Having a collaborative conversation.

Problem-solve together to figure out how to accomplish both your goal and theirs (in this case, keeping them safe and as independent as possible in their same environment, and giving you peace of mind and/or some freedom of your own).

Let them understand your point of view – and listen to theirs. Maybe you can’t continue providing the level of care you have been or don’t live nearby. Or, caring for them is impacting your work. Or, you are worried they will fall or leave the stove on or … fill in the blank.

Thinking ahead.

Try to anticipate an issue/crisis. Ask them what they worry about. Does it make sense to bring up a neighbor or friend who has help that is working out? If so, then you can ask your mom what she would like to do if she needs assistance.

Research home care options and bring them to the “meeting” in case it’s appropriate to discuss them.

It’s likely that your talk will need to be revisited.