Elder Care Expert: Cynthia Perthuis
Are you struggling with the idea of having a difficult discussion with your parent around your concerns for their health?
“There are ways to find the right words for these problem discussions.”
Ways To Find The Right Words With Your Parent:
Have you made a pinkie promise to them that they will be able to stay at home, no matter the situation, and live out their days in that home? In addition, is your parent fiercely independent and refuses to have anyone come into their home to help?
Seventy-seven percent of adult children believe their parents are stubborn about taking their advice or getting help with problems. Similarly, there are ways to find the right words for these problem discussions.
Everybody knows James Brown, aka The Godfather of Soul. In a fifty-year career of music, he is best known for songs like “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”. In other words, one of his popular songs is “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing”.
You’re like a dull knife
Just ain’t cutting
You’re just talking loud
And saying nothing
Talking Loud And Saying Nothing:
The tips below will help keep you from “talking loud and saying nothing” to your parent about difficult topics around their health decisions. Moreover, these tips will also help you with any conversation, even with your teenagers!
There are three ‘R’ words that we must commit to memory when having a talk about a difficult topic.
- Respect – It will be easier if families and caregivers learn to respect their aging loved ones.
- Reconciliation – The goal is to reconcile with the challenges to reach the best decision for all. However, this is consensus and not agreement.
- Reason – Look for ways to focus on health and safety.
“Select the right time of day and remove any distractions such as loud noises.”
You Must Make A Plan:
- Identify the players – Designate a leader who is prepared for and able to deal with strong emotions. Moreover, sort out family dynamics as best you can. Be respectful to all of the players.
- Identify the challenges – Gather the players and brainstorm remembering that there are no bad ideas. Therefore, be understanding and respectful of the view of all the parties involved. Give everyone the opportunity to speak and do not interrupt. Keep notes on this conversation.
- Identify the objections – Everyone has a fear of the unknown. As parents age, they fear their loss of independence and privacy. Similarly, they are concerned about abandonment by their family.
- Identify the resources – What are all of the options? Is it time to bring in help to the home? In other words, is it time to move to communal living such as Assisted Living? How will these things be paid for and by whom?
- Plan the conversation – Make sure that you write a script and choose the right time of day. Select the right time of day and remove any distractions such as loud noises. Feed everyone involved so that hunger does not get in the way.
- Set the stage – Broach the subject frequently and long before the actual formalized discussion. Wait for a teachable moment. Above all, this conversation may happen several times. Do not approach the parent as though you have already made the decision.
Be Prepared With Parent’s Resistance And Disagreement:
In conclusion, you should be prepared for resistance and disagreement. You should also be prepared to fail over and over again. However, if you sharpen your knife with some planning and understanding, your words will not be like a dull knife with no cutting and your listener just might listen!
You can join me to learn more about other tactics for aging parents at an event on September 21. I will be a part of a virtual all-day event to offer a variety of tips and tricks for aging including supporting parents with dementia. Together, we’ll raise funds and awareness for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. Please join me here.
About the Author:
Cynthia Perthuis left her cushy life in Corporate America in 2018 to use her personal experience with her parents and her entrepreneurial background to help the 10,000 people a day turning 65 in the US. The stress of helping aging loved ones and working full-time and caring for her own family while living over 1500 miles apart was overwhelming at times. She often wished there was a non-conflicted industry professional to help when facing these life-changing decisions. She has created her team at Senior Care Authority (www.scanyfl.com) for that purpose. Her team supports over 300 families a year as they navigate these decisions.
Cynthia is originally from Texas and holds a degree from Baylor University. She has made her home, for the past 18 years in New York City and recently added a home in Southwest Florida. She enjoys travel and outdoor activities and has practiced yoga regularly for over 15 years.