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             19 January, 2021
 

    
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Talking About Sensitive Subjects With Older Parents

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2009-10-27 05:56:10     
Article by David Crumrine

Caring for a senior citizen requires talking about sensitive subjects. If you are providing care for a parent or grandparent, you may feel awkward bringing up certain issues. This feeling is understandable. Still, discussing these issues is necessary for ensuring the senior citizen loved one is kept safe and provided the best care.

When initiating a conversation that may make the senior citizen uncomfortable, try a non-threatening approach. Begin by saying, "A lot of people your age experience..." Or, you could start by offering an informative brochure on the subject. Doctors or other health care providers may also be able to help you break the ice, and create a stigma-free context for discussing the issue.

Below, we discuss a few topics that are important, but sometimes difficult to discuss with senior citizens.

* Driving safety. This topic can be sensitive because driving is associated with independence. It may be helpful to begin by mentioning that age can lead to impaired vision and slower reaction times. Ask the senior citizen if they have experienced any car accidents. Also, discuss medications the senior citizen is taking as certain drugs can induce fatigue or impair judgment. Suggest alternatives to driving like use of public transportation.
* Long-term care. This type of elder care can employ home health services, adult day care, and nursing home care. This topic may be sensitive because it can be difficult to discuss approaching declines in capabilities and health. Also, the idea of leaving the familiarity and comfort of one's home can be stressful. Still, it is important to create a long-term care plan. Brainstorm possible future needs as well as how and from whom the senior would like these needs met.
* Advance care directives/ End-of-life care. This can be thought of as a "living will" or what the person would want to happen if they did not have the capacity to direct their own care. It is very hard to raise this issue, because it may be frightening for the senior citizen to think about. Still, it is very important to talk about what the senior would want in the event that they became very ill.

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