July 02, 2011

Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk (originally published BC Black Press Sept, 2010)

Initiating conversations comes easily to some and not to others, but conversations with aging parents are typically the most difficult. While we as children may feel awkward and don’t know how to open up such conversations, I can only imagine how our parents might have similar awkward feelings of vulnerability having to ask for help.  Clarissa Green, teacher and family therapist with a similar passion for encouraging caring connections also believes that opening up with others and building relationships through conversation can reduce anxieties with aging parents during this new journey.
Evidently there does come a time when we need to take on more responsibility to support a parent whether we are ready or not. Issues typically arise around driving, finances, health or loss of independence.  Think about how you might raise questions around these issues and what type of response you might get.  The goal here is to get to know each other better so that you can work creatively and effectively together as a family.  If there are lingering issues, then addressing them now might alleviate certain family dynamics later.  As we prepare for these conversations, make sure your first considerations are of empathy and understanding with a goal to maintain one’s dignity and respect.
Don’t be afraid of turning to others for support as we all know others going through similar challenges.  Knowledge is vital. Free assessments are available for families who want to learn how to navigate the healthcare system. Let your parents teach you how it feels and what fears they have about aging. Remember that it takes emotional courage and skill to talk about hard things, but like a new habit, comfort will develop over time
Asking for help is never easy, and if we speak openly and honestly with our own parents and learn to set aside any issues then we can move through this new journey with compassion. Each of my siblings naturally play a different role depending upon their personality strengths, but together we work as a team to offer support the best we can. In return we hope that our parents too will open up and be honest with us around aging issues.  Take the time to show you care.
Denise Kelly is a North Vancouver Boomer proudly living with her two children, husband and dog Mel.  She looks forward to sharing stories to motivate others.  Follow Denise on Twitter at The Boomer Vine or she can be reached at denise.play@gmail.com.   

Article originally published BC Black Press September , 2010

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