Nov 02, 2023

Hurdles that Prevent Communication with Aging Parents

Senior woman and daughter sit talking at the kitchen table at home

According to research conducted by the Home Instead® network, two in five adult children (39%) surveyed in the U.S., and more than one-third (36%) surveyed in Canada, have at least one barrier that prevents them from having conversations with their parents about aging or end of life.

Here are a few concerns that could create problems for families. Some are from a senior’s perspective, others from an adult child or family. 

Living Choices

  • Seniors fear loss of independence, which could include giving up on certain freedoms such as driving.
  • Families are concerned about the cost of receiving assistance at home or moving to a care community.
  • Seniors are afraid they will be forced to leave their home.
  • Families are not aware of what their options might be.
  • Individuals may struggle with giving up possessions if they are down-sizing.

Financial Choices

  • Individuals may fear outliving their money, and don’t have the understanding or resources to help take control of their situation.
  • Parents feel their financial situation is none of their adult children’s business.
  • Parents don’t want to be a burden.
  • Adult children may want to help financially but can’t.


  • Medications are expensive.
  • Reluctance to bother family members.
  • The attitude: “I’m old anyway, so why should it matter.”
  • Seniors are intimidated by their doctors and don’t understand them.

Relationships and Dating

  • Adult children worry how their parent’s new relationship will impact the family dynamic and issues such as inheritance.
  • Families worry about losing holiday traditions or their annual vacation.
  • Feelings of rejection: “I’m no longer a priority because Mom/Dad found a replacement.”
  • Older adults may fear being alone or lonely.
  • Seniors may fear losing privacy and intimate relationships when they move into a care community.


  • Seniors fear they won’t be able to get around if they have to quit driving.
  • Adult children worry that seniors will hurt themselves or someone else.
  • Older adults could have an inaccurate perception of their ability to drive.
  • Adult children could feel it’s disrespectful to ask a parent to give up his or her keys.
  • Individuals don’t want to bring up problems or may hide accidents for fear that they will lose driving privileges.

End of Life

  • People think they still have plenty of time to address end-of-life issues.
  • Families don’t want to think about it; talking makes their mortality real.
  • Families don’t know where to start the conversation.

To work through these important issues, complete the Action Plan for Successful Aging.

The 40-70 Rule: Communicating Touchy Topics

Did you find this article helpful? Access more 40/70 Rule articles and tools.
Corporate Resource Article Page Open Graph

Personalized Senior Care

From respite care to 24-hour in-home care, at Home Instead, care plans and services can be tailored to meet your family’s needs.
Senior talking with caregiver

Related Resources