November 18, 2020

Hurdles Often Stand in the Way of Communicating 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.


Health

  • 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.


Driving

  • 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