How to Make Important Conversations with Loved Ones Productive
Conversations about topics like bringing in a caregiver to help seniors around the house or discussing moving into a senior care community are equally important and difficult. Family caregivers might not know how to approach this conversation or ignore it entirely because they don’t want to hurt their loved one’s feelings. However, these conversations have to happen because they lead to seniors living enriched and healthy lives.
“We understand why these conversations are so tough,” says Ruth Cantillon, Director of Sales and Marketing at Osprey Lodge in Tavares, FL. “The family caregivers don’t want to offend their parents or feel guilty because of how these talks revolve around a change in lifestyle. But if higher care is needed so their loved ones can live with dignity and safety, then these conversations are necessary.”
Important conversations can be stressful, but there are ways to make them easier and effective. These tools will help family caregivers and their loved ones have a calm and respectful conversation.
Tools for Important Conversations:
- Research Beforehand. Look up all of the information you can about the topic their loved one is interested in and make sure you have concrete examples so they can see the specifics. Avoid making comments like, “We can look that up later.” It sounds like you’re brushing them off and now your loved one doesn’t see a solution right in front of them.
- Slow Pace. This discussion can’t come completely out of left field. If this feels like an attack, your loved one will probably have a negative response. Start by asking them easier questions to get a feel for how comfortable they are answering these questions. Asking about doctor’s appointments, how they’re doing or if they need any help around the house can clue you in to how the difficult conversation will go.
- Start the Conversation. After doing research and asking easier questions, it’s time to have the difficult conversation. Don’t make this talk the entire point of visiting your loved one. Enjoy each other’s company and keep things positive. Wait for an opening where you can address your concerns and naturally transition the conversation. You can either use a direct or subtle approach. Choose the one you think your loved one will have a better response to.
- Listen Carefully. Employ active listening and allow your loved one to respond. Don’t interrupt or immediately start arguing. You might be worried about being at a loss for words at some point in this discussion. By paying attention to your loved one’s words and body language and trying to understand their perspective, your responses will be more organic.
- Follow Up. The first talk probably won’t have a solution. Important conversations are marathons, not sprints. After the talk, let things calm down as you and your loved one reflect on what was said. Don’t push another discussion on your loved one if they’re not ready. However, if they bring the topic up, be ready to talk it over again.
When to Start the Conversation:
Family caregivers might wonder what they have to see that shows it’s time to have an important conversation. They could think they’re overreacting or not want to start change in their loved one’s life. When physical and mental health are put in jeopardy, it’s time for change.
- Physical Limitation. Seniors sometimes have trouble keeping up with household chores like laundry and dishes. If they can’t clean, it might be time to bring in a caregiver who will help with these tasks.
- Seniors can get confused when it comes to their medication. Whether it’s taking the right pills, proper dosage or opening the bottle, they might need someone else there to help them. With a caregiver, families know that their loved one is safe and will be getting the right medication.
- Issues with Driving. When seniors can no longer turn the wheel, check blind spots or get confused about their location while driving, it could be time to have “The Driving Discussion.” This is an important discussion about how it’s not safe for your loved one to drive anymore. Because this is a big change in lifestyle, make sure to offer solutions like a shuttle service or caregiver to drive for errands.
- When seniors start forgetting to turn off appliances like stoves and ovens, then staying at home alone is no longer safe. This is the time to start talking about different living options, like a full time caregiver or long-term care.
After figuring out that an important conversation has to happen, take time to prepare for it. Be as patient and understanding as possible, and remember you’re doing this for your loved one’s safety and health.
At Osprey Lodge, we provide excellent health care from a highly trained team of compassionate and kind people. Paired with all of the opportunities for residents to participate in enriching activities, we ensure our residents’ overall well-being is at its best.
Come Flourish at Osprey Lodge!
Located on the banks of Lake Frances, Osprey Lodge offers Assisted Living and Memory Care services within the rustic warmth of a Colorado lodge in the rolling hills of central Florida. We provide an environment of socialization and volunteerism, as well as dependable health care services that promote independence, self-direction, social connections and daily purpose.
The Lodge lifestyle is a unique approach to senior living. While aging does come with challenges, our culture of connections creates an environment for residents to find daily purpose and joy. Here, residents don’t lose their independence. Instead, they receive countless avenues for which to connect with others through social activities or volunteer opportunities. We believe that everyone has something to contribute to their community, and we consider it our mission to help residents find what they can give – their skills, talents, company and enthusiasm.
Residents in our Assisted Living community and Memory Care program experience personalized, comprehensive healthcare services from dedicated, experienced professionals and staff. Each resident works with us to create their own Personal Care Plan, designed specifically for them to enjoy optimal independence while receiving the quality care they require.
We invite you to learn more about the fulfilling lifestyle and serves available at Osprey Lodge. Contact us today!