WHEN DISCUSSING THORNY TOPICS
WITH YOUR AGING LOVED ONE

Discussing thorny topics with your aging loved one(s) is difficult even under the best of circumstances – as many family members who have tried and failed can tell you. But since resolving issues is a lot easier before a crisis, for the past 2 months I\’ve been giving you Pitfalls to avoid if you want to be successful when you discuss thorny topics with your aging loved one. Here then are the final 5 Pitfalls.

PITFALL #1) Thinking there is only 1 solution (Yours!)

Some of the reasons family members may think there is only one solution (theirs!) is because they only know about one solution – perhaps it\’s a solution that a friend used or they read about. Or maybe because basically it\’s an “ok solution” and since they didn\’t plan ahead, there\’s no time to come up with a different one or others. Or perhaps because they were thinking only in terms of their needs such as having their loved one move into an assisted living because it just solves everything. Or maybe it\’s a matter of ego – thinking their solution is right because it\’s their solution. Think out of the box and be creative. In addition, look for the potential problems in your solution. Brainstorm with friends and bounce your ideas off of them – and ask them to play devils advocate. Whatever the reason, it\’s important to look for and seriously consider as many options as possible.

PITFALL #2) Thinking the solution has to be “all or nothing”

Someone who is made to feel that they have to “take it or leave it” is more likely to vote for “leave it”!

If it truly does have to be “all”, that\’s one thing but if not then why risk “nothing.” So you\’re way better off if you go in being willing to compromise. Therefore, before doing anything ask yourself if it is a crisis? If not, then consider working in increments that will help you avoid the crisis. Or, is it all a crisis? If not, then focus only on that part which is – or is about to be. Better to resolve the crisis then try to get everything . . . and lose everything.

PITFALL #3) Thinking the solution is etched in stone

Bottom line . . . it\’s not! Just because the solution is what was “agreed” to, doesn\’t mean it\’s the be all and end all. The fact is, the solution is only good as long as it remains appropriate to the circumstances at hand. Therefore, establish right up front that the solution is not etched in stone – that it is “for now” and will need to be revisited at a pre-agreed-upon time (a week/month or sooner if needs change).

PITFALL #4) Not realizing men & women really are different!

It\’s true . . . they really are – especially when it comes to their communication styles! And not just the elderly. Men & women of all ages communicate differently. Women communicate more “socially” and tend to chit-chat more before, during, and after the basic information, where as men tend to be more direct, just want to get to the point – “just the facts ma\’am”. Therefore, if you\’re a man trying to talk with a woman, work on having more of a conversation. If you\’re a woman trying to talk with a man, work on getting to and staying on the point. To improve communication, it\’s important to adapt your communication style to theirs.

PITFALL #5) Not knowing when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em, and when to walk away

If your parents are of sound mind then they don\’t have to do anything. Ideally you\’ll help them want to do what\’s in their best interest but if they don\’t want to do something, they don\’t have to. So sometimes it\’s better to walk away so you can try again another day!

Now that you know the Pitfalls to avoid, proceed with compassion!

© Copyright AgeWiseLivingTM 2001-2007 You can find information about Generational Coaching, AgeWiseLivingTM seminars and free teleseminars, and to sign up for Barbara\’s free monthly newsletter at http://www.agewiseliving.com/ or by calling toll-free (877) AGE-WISE. Barbara E. Friesner is the country\’s leading Generational Coach and expert on issues affecting seniors and their families. She is an adjunct professor at Cornell University, where she created and teaches “Seniors Housing Management” at Cornell\’s School of Hotel Administration.

Barbara Friesner is the country's leading Generational Coach and an expert on issues affecting Seniors and their families. She has been interviewed for Advising Boomers magazine, featured on NY1 TV's Focus on Seniors and Coping with Caregiving on wsRadio. She has also been quoted in newspapers and magazines across the country and her articles have been published in the CAPSule, the Children of Aging Parent's newsletter.