Page 12 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - November 2018 - 25-11
P. 12

Page 12
Senior Times - November 2018
By: Sherii Sherban, Publisher
Two of the biggest obstacles when it comes to communicating aging plans and/or concerns is how to start the conversation and how to avoid family conflicts, especially among sibling family caregivers.
Here's a great rule of thumb: Start the con- versation when a senior is 70 or the adult child is 40. The goal of this 40/70 Rule is to start the conversations early before a crisis occurs, but also to finish them with a plan that can help take the guesswork out of aging. The plan encourages individuals of all ages to ACT (Assess, Consider, Talk) on their desires and wishes for the future, then put their plan into action.
Topics such as living and financial choices, health and safety, driving, dating, and end of life choices can be perplexing. The 40-70 Rule: An Action Plan for Successful Aging and accompa- nying resources can assist families in having the "talk" about the issues so many want to avoid. Seniors... if your adult children haven’t brought it up yet then consider helping them and bring it up yourself.
The upcoming holidays can allow for both quality time with your loved ones but also cre- ate the opportunity to begin to intentionally observe how your loved one is doing. You may determine that now is the time to start talking with them about their future plans.
Knowing how to start the discussion about sen- sitive subjects can be challenging. The following tips from Home Instead Senior Care and commu- nication expert Jake Harwood, Ph.D., can help Boomer children communicate with their aging parents.
Get Started. When your parents reach age 70, it's time to start observing and gathering informa- tion carefully and thoughtfully. Don't reach a con- clusion from a single observation or decide on the
best solution until you have gathered information with an open mind and talked with your parents. While you may talk to your parent by phone on a regular basis direct observation, by you, a friend, or even a professional, is important.
Talk it out. Approach your parents with a con- versation. Discuss what you've observed and ask your parents what they think is going on. If your parents acknowledge the situation, ask what they think would be good solutions. If your parents do not recognize a problem, use concrete examples to support your case. You may want to have your concerns written down before you begin.
Sooner is best. Talk sooner rather than later when a crisis has occurred. As an example, if you know your loved one has poor eyesight or
has trouble driving at night, address those issues before a problem arises. It might prevent them from withdrawing due to fears related to their vision concerns. This means you may not be able to wait until they reach age 70.
Forget the baby talk. Remember you are talking to an adult, not a child. Patronizing speech or baby talk will put older adults on the defen- sive and convey a lack of respect for them. Put yourself in your parents' shoes and think of how you would want to be addressed in the situation. Instead, be clear. Often short sentences make a conversation easier to understand.
Maximize independence. Help your loved one to know that you are intentionally seeking to find solutions that provide the maximum amount of independence for them. But seniors need to be honest too. If you do not observe a problem that they are experiencing, your loved one needs to know that they can bring it to you without fear that the only solution is moving to a care facility.
Look for answers that optimize strengths and can compensate for challenges and con- cerns. Only add in support services that your loved one needs in order to continue to live as independently as possible.
If your loved one needs help at home, iden- tify what they actually need assistance with.
Look for tools that can help them where needed while allowing them to maintain the use of their strengths. As an example, maybe meal preparation is still enjoyable for them but they need assistance with light housework.
Professional caregiving services provide assis- tance in a number of areas including meal prepa- ration, light housekeeping, or medication remind- ers. Or find friends that are willing to help.
Ask for help. Providing parents with the sup- port they need to continue to maintain their inde- pendence can solve many of the issues of aging.
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