Home Health Care News

The 40-70 Rule: Conversation Starters (Part 4)

The Money Talk

Your parents have always been very independent and private about handling their finances. Lately you’ve seen that they’ve been cutting back on food and other necessary products. You’re concerned that their staples are in short supply. How do you broach this subject?

This is a tough one and probably a situation where you need to “bite the bullet” and talk about it, no matter how uncomfortable. Some reasonable conversation starters might be, “Boy, there’s not much food around the place – what are you guys eating?” Pay attention to the tone you use. This sentence could be said in an accusatory or a humorous fashion. Obviously the latter is more likely to get a positive response.

If this is too informal, try a more straightforward approach: “Mom, I’m a bit concerned about whether you and Dad are eating enough.” Malnourishment can be a significant problem with older adults, and can be a sign of other issues that might need attention over and above finances – such as poor-fitting dentures or even depression.

If the other evidence points to a financial issue, ask about that directly or simply make an offer: “I know you’re pretty private about money, but you know that if you ever ran into problems I’d do what I could to help, right?”

And don’t forget about different communication channels. Sometimes, it’s easier to at least start the discussion of emotional or private issues in a less personal communication medium, even if it’s only to say that you want to talk to them about the issue. For  some people, raising this kind of issue can be easier on the phone, or even in an e-mail. Once you’ve said what you want to talk to them about in an e-mail, it’ll be a lot easier to raise the topic in person. You may even find them doing it for you. For example. “What’s with this e-mail you sent us, eh?”

When Dad Starts to Date

Since your mother died a year ago, your 77-year-old father has started dating a widowed family friend. You’d like to know more about what’s going on, but how do you begin the conversation?

If you want to introduce the topic, a gentle inquiry like the following would be fine: “So it seems that you’ve been seeing quite a bit of ‘Fran’ recently.” After this, you should probably see whether your dad wants to share additional information. If he doesn’t, that’s his prerogative.

One exception would be if you have some information that there is abuse or exploitation in the scenario. For instance, if you sense that your dad’s love interest may be taking advantage of him financially, some additional probing might be justified, depending on the specifics.

If your dad has money and this friend doesn’t, and suddenly the friend shows up driving a new luxury car, you might ask your dad, “Do you know who bought her that car?” If the friend moves in with your dad and a lot of new things appear around the house, which don’t fit your dad’s style, you might ask, “This doesn’t look like your kind of thing, Dad. Did you buy this?” Otherwise, be happy that your dad has a girlfriend and don’t force him to disclose more than he’s comfortable telling you.

Home Instead Senior Care is an in-home health care provider located in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina serving individuals and families in the Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand area for over 11 years! We offer assistance to those in need for companionship, home help, personal care, short-term recovery, Alzheimer’s care, Respite care and many other services to make your life easier.

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