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Talking to Your Parents About Concerns for Their Health

Family relationships can be contentious, loving, and crazy--sometimes all at the same time! Think about your relationships with your parents and siblings. Many strong personalities can have strong opinions. Perhaps your parents were somewhat controlling with you; perhaps they let you find your own way. Whatever the relationship, difficult subjects are hard to broach.

As your parents age, their lives will be taking different turns, particularly when it comes to their health. When it comes time to have a conversation with them about independence issues, how will you approach the situation?

Surely, you’ll be worried. They’re your parents, after all. That said, their health can change dramatically in a short period of time, so you need to act decisively. Instead of focusing the conversation on your concerns for your parents, start a conversation by asking them what they are concerned about. You might be surprised with what they might say--they might be on the same page as you. If not, there are options you can use to find common ground.

Include your siblings and your spouse in the conversation. Whatever is the make-up of your siblings, work together on a united front to speak to your parents in a very empathetic way. As a team, you should also do your homework on living arrangements and health care options ahead of time. That way, you can show your parents you are prepared to help them every step of the way.

Be prepared for some pushback! As the saying goes, “your parents brought you into this world.” It is hard for many parents to have their adult children telling them what to do. So remember their role in this decision making process. If they’re not ready to make decisions, respect their stance on these issues. Keep yourselves educated so when the right time becomes available, you are ready.