Any caregiver can tell you of times they’ve met with resistance to the introduction of care from older adults. Sometimes introducing care or changing the nature of the care is necessary due to health conditions or other life circumstances. However, the person who needs it may not be open to making the necessary changes. It’s important to be able to talk to your loved ones about the inevitable and plan ahead. Below are tips for navigating these difficult conversations.
Empathy goes a long way. Put yourself in your loved one’s shoes during the conversation. Hear their goals and let them know you want to help work towards those goals.
Ask questions. Instead of telling your loved one what to do, seek out their opinions and let them come up with solutions. This helps you to avoid seeming condescending. It also empowers them to help solve the problem. If they deny there is a problem, share specific examples of the issue.
Listen carefully. Sometimes people are forthcoming with the reasoning behind their objections, and sometimes they are not. Listening shows them that their input is valuable. Listening also helps when they are less forthcoming. Discerning the real issue may take a little reading between the lines.
Talk often about the issue. If you only talk about issues when there is an immediate need for action, you reduce the chance of success. If you’ve been talking about these possibilities before they become reality, your loved one will be more open to the changes. It is also important to know when to drop the conversation. If things are getting heated, change the subject and try again later when tempers are more calm.
Talking about issues related to change is never easy. It’s important to be able to talk about them though as it makes the difference between smooth transitions and chaotic ones.