December 7, 2010
Your 70-year-old widowed mother has just been diagnosed with macular degeneration, a disease that causes deterioration of eyesight. How do you begin a conversation with her about the possible ramifications of this disease on her life?
Many seniors in this situation might begin the conversation with family themselves. If not, then it would be good to think about her personal circumstances and important areas to address. For example, if your mother lives in a remote area, transportation is probably the most immediate issue. Approach the conversation with the goal of trying to resolve this one issue, rather than multiple issues.
Timing is the key. There are rarely urgent deadlines that have to be met immediately--give yourself and your parent time to think about issues. Your mom would likely be receptive to a conversation that begins: "Let's figure out a plan for how you can get around town if you no longer feel safe driving."
Research: Nearly one-third (31 percent) of Baby Boomers said their biggest communication obstacle with aging parents is continuation of the parent- child roles that emerged in childhood, making discussion of sensitive issues even more difficult.
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