My Health is my concern, not yours
If that is not the case, it brings us back to that conversation being best served by having an understanding of your parent’s temperament. If the conversation is started by suggesting it take place at the doctor’s office, you have already lost half if not all of the battle when it comes to talking about what the future should, could or will hold. A conversation in this company will have already put the parent on edge and have them thinking you feel they are incompetent and that you need and support of the doctor to talk them into something they don’t want. If you do in fact, need that support you will need to have a different conversation. A conversation with the goal of getting your parents permission for you to discuss their health.
Ask for permission for Doctor Input
Doctors, as we age, become either our best friends or our biggest fear. Sadly, too many of us as we age increasingly rely on medication to alleviate any and all aches and pains, both physical and physiological. You will need to know what your parents’ feelings are with respect to their doctor and how that doctor is assisting them with their health care.
Once again temperament plays a big role in how all conversations will go. When it comes to health, the conversation should start with how they feel their health will be in the future and how it is now. Your goal here is to gain an understanding in a non-threating manner what your parent’s thoughts are when it come to their health. This is not about the doctor’s opinion or your feelings. It is setting the stage for a conversation that may be the topic of a future conversation.
When the conversation takes place, it is best started on what is happening now rather than just throwing out the doom and gloom of the future. It’s the age old question; which do you want first, the good news or the bad? In this case always start with the good—how good your parents look, how something they are currently doing is a good idea. To bring up the future, you need to tie it to the present. For example: “Wow, Mom, you are looking pretty spry, those walks must be working. How do you feel, do the walks make you feel more energetic? Good, they say that is key to staying healthy.” If your parents disagree that this has been helping them, they have opened the door for a talk about what they think could help them now and how they think it will change, for better or worse, as time goes on.
Keep the conversation focused on the now and let the parent direct it towards tomorrow and the future. Doing so will help bring the true nature of the needed talk more easily into the conversation with much less stress for all parties.
In a nutshell, you talk about the good of today and let your parents introduce the potential changes of the future. Use that introduction to speak of how things may change or need to change down the road, even if that road is just around the corner.