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Your Health
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How to Broach the Topic of Future Planning for Aging Parents

Senior Planning Services offers key tips for communicating with the elderly

When aging parents are asked where and how they would like to live in the event they need assistance with activities of daily living, they will most often say that they want to continue to live independently at home and that they don’t want to think about it being any other way unless the time comes that they have to.

This common response proves renowned educator David Solie’s point — acknowledging dependency and failing ability to manage daily activities is a difficult topic, especially for those who are experiencing the many losses that come with aging. Actually talking about frailty and needing help from others can feel like “the beginning of the end.”

The reality of their circumstances may not be connected with their internal view of themselves, which is based on familiar capabilities that they relied upon to live successfully in their past.

Senior Planning Services looks to intergenerational communication experts such as David Solie as a resource for families in this particular dilemma. In his work with families, Solie emphasizes the difficulty of the issue for both parties — not just the adult children or their aging parents. By acknowledging each other’s needs, parent and child can come together and compromise.

“Finding a solution for a loved one’s financial situation should take priority over the adult child’s desire to take control,” said Suzanne McNeely, president and founder of Senior Planning Services. “It can feel like a struggle as seniors may be trying to maintain control in the face of the realization they might not always be able to. Be their partner rather than taking over.”

Senior Planning Services offers these key tips in communicating with the elderly:

» Listening is a key factor in communicating with aging parents. Acknowledging their wishes and needs will make them more willing to cooperate.

» Compromise is necessary. Focus on the possible solutions, not on the struggle over who is “in control.”

» Most importantly, make time for yourself. Stress is contagious. Work together one step at a time. Participating in enjoyable activities and taking shared time away from the discussion will calm the stress and ease the potential tension between you and your loved one.

In addition to its Coastal Home Care in home care services, Senior Planning Services serves as a resource to the Santa Barbara community for those facing the sometimes challenging experience of aging. Senior Planning Services helps families overcome the stress of aging and foster an understanding connection.

— Candice Nyholt is a publicist representing Senior Planning Services.

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