Family Privacy Issues: Be Patient with Elders

How and when to approach your elderly parents to discuss “private/personal issues” can be a task easily put-off. Initiating that talk is often the most difficult part. Don’t put it off any longer.

Try to remember where they are in the context of their own lives. It is a different – and possibly difficult – “place” for our aging parents and seniors. Expect some resistance from one or both parents. Listen for their input.

Preparation and thoughtfulness are very helpful qualities for children of elderly parents when confronting this “aging issue” as it relates to your own family. Make a list for your parents with questions or concerns – this will help them address concerns and prepare for a more open communication with you.

Helpful Tips to Break the Ice

Here are some general recommendations to consider on broaching private issues with your elderly parents.

1.) Focus on key points and ask your parents for their own thoughts regarding their current needs and concerns and their worries about the future – rather than guessing, which can lead to bad mistakes and hard feelings. Ask about the location of such important documents as insurance policies, wills, health care proxies, living wills, trust documents, tax returns, and investment and banking records.

2.) Keep it positive and treat them as equals. Even if they make what you consider an unsafe choice, it doesn’t necessary mean they are no longer capable of living independently.

 3.) Expect that the discussion will be ongoing rather than a “one shot” deal. Each time the topic is revisited, it should become more comfortable.

 4.) Step back and evaluate. This might include suggesting that your parents talk with a third party – an estate planner, financial expert or attorney – if you think they could use some expert advice.

JD Miller

About JD Miller

John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. Phone: (781) 378-2164 Email: Website:

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