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7 Communication Techniques for Talking to Elderly Parents

Caregiving results in major changes in a family: physical, emotional, social and financial issues can arise. It changes the roles, responsibilities and feelings within the family, which can lead to tension and fighting. Caregivers in the community frequently support each other with "tricks of the trade" when it comes to effective communication with elderly parents.

We would like to share this knowledge, gained from caregiving day-in and day-out, with you. It doesn't always work, and it won't be easy, but we hope it helps you to cope and try to maintain or repair family relationships – and help you keep your sanity during your caregiving journey!

Don't Give Advice Unless It's Asked For

Parents have advised their children their whole lives, so hearing advice from a child – albeit an adult child - might not go over so well. That parent-child role reversal is hard on the parent. Therefore, giving advice is best avoided unless you are sure it has been asked for. It is generally better to let an outside person be the advisor. You can encourage and provide support, without doling out advise.

Listen to What Your Elderly Parent is Saying

Really listen. Listen to what the person is saying. Don't interrupt or try to fill in the silence. A period of silence could mean your family member is contemplating a response, thinking through the conversation and how to reply. Listening goes both ways, so try to determine that the person is hearing what you say.

Accept Differences of Opinions

No matter how close a family is, and despite the dynamics involved, everyone is not going to agree all of the time. There is sure to be differences of opinions. Respect the opinions of others; don't disregard them. Listen to all sides, and make a decision together when possible.

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