You might have been here before. You call up mom to chat and she casually says, “Oh, you know sweetie, I fell the other day.” Worry flashes into your mind. What if she was seriously hurt? What if she was alone and couldn’t get help? How would you have known?
Without thinking, you snip back, “Mom, it’s not safe for you to be at home alone. You need to get a medical alarm.”
All goes down hill from there. Any potential conversation about the subject has been tainted by this argument, and Mom just won’t listen.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Having a conversation with your aging parent can be a productive, positive experience that sets the stage for your future relationship as adults. Here are some tips to start the conversation with your parents about getting a medical alarm.
There is no time too soon to start the conversation. Broaching the subject well in advance of any potential emergency or critical situation takes pressure off both parties. All you’re doing at that point is being proactive and having a chat about the future. There doesn’t need to be any action taken at first, which can help ease your parent into accepting the possibility.
Consider your Approach
Most of the success will come not from what you say, but how you say it. Keep your message simple, and rather than driving the conversation with your concerns and feelings, ask mom or dad what their concerns are. And make sure you actually listen. “Even if you’ve already made up your mind…you should really listen to what he’s saying and be open to other options” (Matthiessen). There might be compromises that arise from listening to your parents’ perspective, and they’ll surely appreciate it more than if you presented only your side.
If you have siblings, be sure to involve them in your plans and conversations. Discussing your parents’ future is a family affair, and everyone needs to be a part of the planning process. This is often a sticking point among families as siblings may have different ideas about their parents’ needs and may live in different cities. But psychologist Barry Jacobs, PsyD, says that “It is crucial that all the adult siblings are giving their parents the same general message” (A Place for Mom, 2014). But don’t gang up with your siblings against your parents. Let them know of your plans to involve everyone so that they don’t feel like it’s a battle between parents and children.
Do Some Research
It’s a good idea to do some investigating before talking with your parents about medical alarms. If you have ready answers for their questions, the conversation will go much smoother. In addition to questions you may have about cost and set up, think about questions your parents may have like how easy it is to use or how comfortable it is to wear. It’s also a good idea to think about examples of other people who have been in a similar situation. Chances are your parent has an older friend or relative who has needed a medical alarm before. Whether the person in your example got an alarm or not, comparing themselves to someone familiar might help your parents see things objectively.
Let Go of Authority
You may have gotten used to bossing an aging parent around like your child. After all, your life is about getting things done, and it can be much easier just to tell them what to do. But when it comes down to it, older parents don’t want to feel like their adult children are trying to parent them. Your parents know that you only want the best for them, so respect their perspective and you’ll both be happier.
A Place for Mom. (2014, June 5). Moving Elderly Parents: Convincing Mom and Dad. A Place for Mom Blog. Retrieved from http://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/moving-elderly-parents
Having the Conversation. (n.d.). Conversations: How to Best Get Started. Retrieved from http://www.havingtheconversation.com/How-to-best-get-started.html
How to Talk to the Elderly About Tough Family Issues. (n.d.). Caring.com. Retrieved from http://www.caring.com/articles/talking-to-elderly-parents
Sollitto, M. (n.d.). 7 Communication Techniques for Talking to Elderly Parents. Aging Care.com. Retrieved from http://www.agingcare.com/Articles/communication-techniques-to-deal-with-elderly-parents-138454.htm