As our parents grow older, it’s common for health problems to appear and naturally, we want to support them every step of the way. However, a person’s health can be a sensitive topic. It can be challenging to approach this conversation with care — especially if they don’t want to discuss it.
There’s no need to tell your parents what to do or how to deal with certain situations. But we can offer some guidance on how to approach the subject of their health in a mindful and comforting manner that connects with them.
SET THE SCENE
Before launching into a discussion about your parent’s health problem, it’s wise to seed the idea first. Try asking how they’re feeling or if there’s anything they would like to talk about. This approach allows them to think about what they want to say in their own time and it won’t feel like you’re quizzing them. When you think it’s the right time to follow up on this conversation, try to start it in a calm setting where everyone is relaxed and there’s plenty of time for discussion.
Don’t treat this chat like an intervention. Instead, use the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely lunch or a peaceful walk together. This way, you can organically navigate the conversation without making them feel like you have a motive. Be patient and make sure there are no distractions so you can warmly connect with them. By doing this, your parents are far more likely to actively engage in the conversation.
USE GENTLE STATS
Does your mum or dad often use numbers to analyse a situation? If so, you could use stats to discuss a particular topic. For example, bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK and affects around 1 in 20 people.
Your parents can use this information to visualise themselves as one in twenty people they know. While that may sound confrontational, it also reminds them health issues don’t discriminate and they’re not immune and could be affected. Information is power.
MAKE A SOCIAL CONNECTION
Does your mum or dad have strong empathic traits? If so, they may connect with the subject of health more if you associate it with a person or celebrity they know. Once they realise they’re not alone and their family friend or a public figure also has the same condition, they will become more reconciled to the problem.
For example, the actor Samuel L. Jackson developed a loss of bladder control in his late 40s. Although he admitted he was initially embarrassed. he was later quoted saying “I realised that this was a problem that millions of people deal with every day.”
DISCUSS THEIR OPTIONS
Now the subject of your parent’s health is in the open and it’s comfortable to discuss, step in and offer practical solutions. First, reassure them that no matter what, everything will be okay and you’re happy to help them decide on the best course of action.
Whether it’s a small but helpful option such as incontinence pads for adults to assist urinary incontinence or a visit to their GP or specialist for further help, knowing you’re by their side to help process information, share decisions and to offer support will make a world of difference.
Written by Gary Braithwaite
Author Bio – Gary Braithwaite is the Director of family-run business Bayliss Mobility. With over 25 years experience in the mobility and daily living aids industry, Gary prides himself on delivering quality products that help people regain and retain their independence.