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How to Approach Mom and Dad about Change

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The past couple of entries have been about facing difficult decisions about transition with an older parent, perhaps toward independent living and out of the family home. The initial conversation of moving is very difficult and challenging for a number of reasons. Memories of watching children grow up, birthdays, anniversaries, and more still live within the space. It’s hard to give up the home you’ve worked for, lived in, and raised a family in. Therefore, if you do believe that moving out is an option that your parents should consider, approaching them compassionately and openly will help make the conversation easier.

The most important thing you can do in a conversation like this is to schedule time away from other personal distractions. Make sure you have time to really listen to your loved one as this conversation may not be resolved in one sitting or even two. However long it takes, it is important to really understand your loved one’s concerns and try not to be or seem dismissive. As stated in a previous entry, this decision should ultimately be theirs to make.  You might find yourself focusing on convincing or persuading rather than investigating how they feel about their options. By listening, you may discover that there are other options for them you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

Another important tip is to come to the conversation prepared. Learn about independent living communities that they might be interested in. Once you’ve heard their concerns and worries, you might be able to address them in a more informed manner. It is also important to avoid pushing the issue if you feel they’re getting angry or upset – try to come back to it at another time.

Most of all, it is best to be understanding without trying to rush the decision. This is why it is never too soon to have this very important talk.

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  Please email your questions to ccbishop@creativecasemanagement.com

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