More Tips on Tough Conversations for the Sandwich Generation

Becky Cholewka:  Here are a couple more tips that I’d like to share about having tough conversations with family members.

Throughout my estate planning practice, I know that there are many, especially sandwiched‑generation families, who are dealing with their aging parents, and want to make sure that they’re doing so in a loving way, but sometimes you need to have those tough conversations.

One tip to remember is to make sure that you are always placing their dignity in a very high level. People want to age with independence, and they want to age with dignity.
The more that you can help them through that process, and the more that you can have conversations with them that maximize their independence instead of trying to minimize the independence, it’s going to help them with this transition in their life.

Another important tip to remember; never scare or threaten a family member, or anyone. For example, there’s lots of people that may have a conversation that sounds like this, “You know, Mom? If you don’t do this, I’m going to put you into a nursing home.”

Well, to Mom, that could be an absolutely terrifying statement to have heard. Make sure that you are never trying to have Mom or Dad’s action stop by threatening them or scaring them to do so. It will not be a productive conversation for any of you.

Third, don’t make promises that you can’t keep. I hear this all the time from kids who just want to make sure that they are doing what’s best for Mom or Dad. Let’s say Dad doesn’t want to go in to any type of assisted living facility, and he wants to stay at home.

Then the daughter, who always has loved her Dad says, “You know what, Dad? I promise I’ll keep you in your home. It’s OK.”

You know what? It’s not OK if living in the home, at some point, is a safety risk for Dad. You cannot make promises that you may not be able to keep for Dad’s own safety. Make sure that you don’t make promises that you can’t keep.

Some of these are some of the hardest tips to remember when you’re having really tough conversations with family members, but they’re the ones that might be the most helpful in the end.


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