With women's health week coming up, now is a good time to start talking with mom about her health care—especially if her health has been declining recently. While it may be hard to talk with your mom about her future, knowing what she wants as she requires more physical care is important. If you’re not sure how to start a conversation with your mother on such a sensitive topic, consider these 5 ways to bring up the subject in a non-threatening way.
1. Bring up the Topic Casually
If your mom is already living with you or you speak with her everyday as her primary caregiver, you know how important it is to tread lightly around the topic of moving into assisted living or a retirement community. But if you’re already starting to feel overwhelmed with all the responsibilities of providing care, it's time that both you and your mom start thinking about her future care options—before a crisis forces your hand.
While eating dinner or visiting, you could, for example, bring up the idea of assisted living by saying, "I heard (insert friend's name here) just moved into assisted living. Maybe we should go visit her and check it out?" Casually mentioning a friend and the possibility of a visit, indirectly tells your mom that maybe it's time to consider this option.
2. Be Honest
Your mom can probably recognize signs that you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you’re tired, cranky, and feeling like you can't do it all, she senses your frustration. Before your stress becomes unmanageable, talk with her. Be honest and clear about the fact that you love her and that you want to enjoy your time together. Something like, "Mom, I've been cranky lately and I know it. Maybe we should look at some additional help so that we have more time to enjoy together," would be a good way to start.
3. Be Practical
If your mom is a planner, then she will appreciate your candor. If she has planned financially for her retirement, it may be possible for her to live in a community with assisting living while maintaining all or part of her assets. Talk with your mom about her house, and the costs associated with keeping the property. While she may not want to move, being practical about the amount of money it takes to keep up maintenance on the house may get her thinking. Sit down with your mom and ask her how she feels about moving "eventually". Don't make her feel like she has to make a decision immediately—that will only make her nervous.
4. Show a Sense of Humor
While your mom's medical and social needs might not be the funniest topic, you can approach the subject with a sense of humor. If the two of you have had a recent mishap, say you both fell in the tub while you were trying to get her settled, bring up the topic—as long as you know it won’t embarrass her.
Keep the tone as light as you can and, while you are enjoying a good laugh, steer the conversation in the direction that it's good the two of you didn't get hurt. If your mom is getting more difficult to take care of, tell her that you aren't sure that you are both taking care of her safely. Let her know that although you are there for her, you may need more professional help.
5. Always Lead with Love
What your mom needs to know is that you love her. You can be direct in any conversation, just make sure she knows you love and support her at every turn. Start by telling her you love her, but it was time that you talked about her changing needs. Be clear that you are there for her and will work with her to come up with a plan that works best for both of you.