Home Instead Senior Care: Bridging the Communication Gap – LIVING WELL Magazine

The “40-70 Rule”

Bridging the Communication Gap Between Seniors and Their Families

Courtesy Home Instead Senior Care, Northshore LIVING WELL Magazine

The problems of aging often leave family caregivers and their senior parents speechless. What does an adult daughter say to her dad when he’s hit the light pole with the car? How does a grown son ask his mom if she’s taking her medications like she should? How does a widow explain to her children that she needs help around the house without losing more of her independence?

Many of us have faced such questions. Sensitive issues like these prompted Home Instead Senior Care to launch a public-education campaign designed to help family caregivers and seniors bridge the communication gap when it comes to discussing sensitive subjects.

The campaign is based on original research conducted in the U.S. and Canada by Home Instead Senior Care.  Surprisingly, this research revealed that nearly one-third of adults in the U.S. have a major communication obstacle with their parents that stems from continuation of the parent-child role. In other words, it can be difficult to get the conversation going because seniors are still treating their adult offspring like children.

More generally, this Home Instead Senior Care survey found that Boomers have the most difficulty talking with their parents about independence issues, such as continuing to live in their own homes. Their parents’ desire to remain independent makes it challenging to address such sensitive issues as health (28%) and money (21%).

Moreover, the fact that many of these families are still in a parent-child rather than a peer-to-peer role makes the conversations even more difficult. Consequently, we’ve seen this lack of communication lead to problems such as misuse of medications, self-neglect – even accidents.

This guide is designed to help adult children and their aging parents deal with those sensitive life topics that often make conversations difficult. How do you talk with your mom and dad about driving, dating and independence? When do you start?

The 40-70 Rule means that if you are 40, or your parents are 70, it’s time to start the conversation about some of these difficult topics. The guide has many topics that seniors themselves should begin discussing with their children when they are 70. It also has some great information about preparing for end-of-life issues –topics that can be extremely sensitive for seniors and their families to address.

At the center of the 40-70 campaign is a guide of conversation starters for sensitive senior-care subjects.  This guide was compiled with the assistance of Dr. Jake Harwood, national author and communication professor from the University of Arizona.

The bottom line? Do keep talking, because the parent-child conversation can be so important in helping seniors adapt to changing life circumstances.

Good communication also is vital to helping families know when it’s time to seek additional resources. Often, both adult children and their loved ones can benefit from outside help, such as the type provided by professionals like our Home Instead CAREGivers. But the only way that will happen is if these families can talk about it.

To receive a free copy of the 40-70 Rule Guide call us at 985-726-2668 or stop by our office at 1502 Front St., Slidell, LA 70458.

Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise office is independently owned and operated.