Recently, while standing in a crowded, noisy hallway, someone asked me THE question: “How can I persuade my aging loved one(s) to willingly do something they don\’t want to do, even though it\’s in their best interest?” As I began to answer, the whole area fell silent and everyone leaned in to hear my answer. I thought I\’d been transported into that old financial advice commercial!

Unfortunately, the answer is you can\’t! Sorry, but unless your aging loved one(s) has dementia, they are free to do what they want.

But fear not! There is a way to help them want to do what\’s in their best interest. It\’s a process called “The 2-Step Process To Agreement” and it\’s the basis for the 100% success rate of Generational Coaching.


“The 2-step process to agreement” consists of 1) helping your aging loved one(s) determine what they want and 2) helping them get it.

Although there are only 2 steps to this process, it is a process which happens over time, by which, rather than you trying to convince them to do what\’s in their best interest, you help them discover for themselves what is in their best interest – ideally the same thing!


To begin, it\’s necessary to understand where your aging loved one is coming from generationally, emotionally, and personally – who your aging loved one is as a unique individual. This is accomplished through a series of conversations, each building on the last – conversations which will also help you open the lines of communication and help as you proceed to the next part of the process . . . finding out what your aging loved one truly wants.

How do you find out what they truly want? You ask them!

However, rather than asking “what do you want”, which implies the need for a decision and may get a response neither of you wants or worse yet, shut off the conversations completely, ask them instead to do a fun exercise. Ask them to make a list of what they want for the 3rd half of their life. The purpose of this exercise (in addition to having fun) is for you to discover an overall “theme” – the basis for helping them get what they truly want.

To make it easier for you, I\’ve created a worksheet and put it, along with instructions, on my website. To download a copy, simply go to and click on the “What I Want For The 3rd Half of My Life” button at the top of the page. Then, with worksheet in hand, ask your aging loved one to fill it out. To be successful, please remember that the most important instruction is to have fun!

Once the worksheet is completed, you will have the raw data as to what your aging loved one truly wants. Next month, we\’ll look at step #2 – helping them get it!

By the way, while your aging loved ones are writing what they want for the 3rd half of their lives, you might want to complete this exercise yourself. Not only is it a great way to encourage them, it\’s also an exercise I think you will enjoy – and perhaps even find enlightening!

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.