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Having that “Difficult Conversation” with Aging Parents

Asking questions and suggesting alternatives helps older relatives maintain independence. (
Asking questions and suggesting alternatives helps older relatives maintain independence. (
November 28, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Family gatherings over the holidays are a chance to relax and share, but they can also be an important opportunity to start conversations about caregiving. Older adults in the family may need more help than they used to, but talking with them about serious topics like safe driving, personal care and finances can be difficult.

Estella Hyde, a state volunteer with AARP Pennsylvania suggests making sure that these conversations are dialogues is key.

"It's important that you ask the person for input," she said. "Ask them if they're having difficulty handling different situations. The conversation, and having it open and two-way, is important."

AARP hosts a free webinar on Caregiving and the Holidays on Dec. 6. Registration and information is on the AARP Caregiver Resource Center web page,

It's also important to observe, and to ask the right questions, Hyde cautioned.

Hyde asked, "Are they healthy, are they eating okay? Are they taking their medications, are they keeping their doctors' appointments? And then safety, what kind of a situation do they live in?"

If there are signs that a loved one does need extra help, Hyde recommends researching the options like public transportation, help with shopping, or getting them some extra assistance in the home.

"You want to offer them support and some alternatives so that they can be safe and live independent for as long as possible," she explained.

AARP also stresses that family caregivers should find the support they need, in order to keep giving the help that they can.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA