Posts Tagged ‘old age’
Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 12:30 Written by David Solie Friday, 18 January 2013 11:45
This is an interview I did for the Senior Real Estate Institute on January 17, 2013. The topic was communicating with senior housing clients, older adults and adult children. The focus was the two psychological hurdles that have to be considered in working with seniors: developmental tasks combined with ambivalence to change. The goal was to help professionals appreciate the role each of these hurdles and how to partner with them. The audio presentation is a good overview for all professionals in the senior services industry and equally useful for family members caught up in power struggles with aging parents.
Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 01:19 Written by David Solie Tuesday, 4 October 2011 07:20
We neither get better or worse as we get older,
but more like ourselves…Robert Anthony
The boomers are landing on the shore of old age at a rate of 12,000 a day. While turning 65 is officially classified as “young-old,” there is little doubt this is a quantum shift in the boomer lifecycle. As important, this transition is not just leaving behind middle age bodies; it is also about leaving behind middle age psychology. The developmental tasks of fifty-something are being replaced by the tasks of seventy-something. Adding to the complexity of this transition is the persistent turbulence of post-meltdown world. Now what?
What would be helpful at this juncture is a simple way for boomers to assess personal stability, a tool that could provide them with:
1. An overview of the status of key personal resources
2. Feedback about strengths and deficiencies
3. Insights to set realistic expectations and goals
I have created a new self-inventory questionnaire that does this called “The Stability Survey?.”
The Stability Survey? is a yes-no questionnaire that provides a snapshot of boomer transition assets. There are no right or wrong answers or scoring, just a “holding its own” (stable) or “not doing so well” (unstable) assessment of six broad sectors that impact both quality of life and optimal aging.
Here are the six survey questions:
How is your health?
How is your family?
How are your friends?
How is your career?
How are your dreams?
How are your finances?
Here are some of the implications of the answers for each sector:
Stable health usually means no medical issues or medical issues that are under control. Unstable health usually means emerging medical issues or existing medical issues that are either drifting or officially out of control.
Stable family usually means normal or abnormal family issues that are under control. Unstable family usually means normal or abnormal family issues that are either drifting or officially out of control
Stable friends usually means close friends who provide comfort and support. Unstable friends usually means issues with close friends that are undermining comfort and support
Stable career usually means implementation of a personal retirement plan including post-retirement work. Unstable career usually means unresolved work issues or unsatisfactory retirement planning.
Stable dreams usually means the emergence and pursuit of longstanding or new passions, interests, callings, or pursuits. Unstable dreams usually means the loss of deeply personal dreams or the belief they are attainable.
Stable finances usually means implementation of a pre or post personal financial plan Unstable finances usually means unresolved financial issues or unsatisfactory financial planning.
The Stability Survey? is both a look back at where boomers have been and a look forward to the mission that lay ahead. In developmental terms, it shows which transition assets are in alignment with the tasks of the final phase of life: control and legacy. Conversely, it quickly highlights which of the six resources could potentially undermine them. This “big picture” view at the gateway to the next twenty and possibly thirty years could prove invaluable to boomers who are searching for clarity and direction to help them preserve quality of life as well as promote optimal aging.
Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 01:20 Written by David Solie Saturday, 30 July 2011 10:59
How do we help our aging parents consider making positive changes in their lives? We want to help, and feel we have good ideas that could improve their quality of life. For example, we would like for them to consider:
New support services to enhance their “aging in place” environment
New lifestyle changes to protect and improve their health
New living accommodations to put more fun back to their lives as well as reduce isolation and loneliness
New long-term care options to better prepare them for major setbacks
But many times our attempts to discuss these and other “change topics” are met with extreme push back that includes indifference, rejection, and hostility. Despite the constant media prompting to have “the talk” with our aging parents and despite our best intentions, we wind up sending out the wrong signals that are show stoppers instead of conversation starters. Why is this happening and what can make it better?
An extremely valuable book written for healthcare professionals may hold the part of the answer. It is called Motivational Interviewing in Health Care: Helping Patients Change Behavior. The authors offer new insights and strategies for discussing change topics in a clinical medicine setting. It appears that their approach could be equally useful to adult children of aging parents. Here are some highlights from the book that seem especially relevant for all caregivers.
The Change Dilemma
It doesn’t matter how obvious it seems that change would make things markedly better for our aging parents; it is hard for everyone, period. There is a deep inertia to change that anchors all of us to what we have always done. With aging parents, there is the added inertia to change that comes from their developmental need to maintain control in a world where all control is being lost. Change is a threat to control and is viewed with suspicion. So it is unrealistic and impractical to assume our aging parents will suddenly be “change friendly” just because they are older and have glaring issues that could benefit from something new. But as Motivational Interviewing in Health Care so effectively points out, the real six-hundred-pound-gorilla in all of these conversations is the quagmire of ambivalence.
The insights and practical advice on ambivalence alone is worth the price of Motivational Interviewing in Health Care. It turns out that ambivalence lurks behind all change conversations and can be provoked by our attempts to argue away our parents objections to change. These are those unsolicited lectures we give our aging parents to inform or direct them to do something different. I call this all to common habit of adult children the “better answer” syndrome. This is code for “I know what’s best, please pay attention.”
But instead of consensus, it only provokes the dreaded righting-reflex that entrenches our aging parents into arguing against the suggested change, moving the conversation from uncomfortable to communication gridlock. Thankfully, the authors offer an effective, non-intuitive approach to work around this all too common dilemma.
Motivational Interviewing in Health Care makes it clear that our goal is to avoid triggering the righting reflex and make an honest effort to understand our aging parent’s point of view. This involves finding out what they are actually experiencing and then signal that we are listening and get it. Within this non-triggering conversation environment, we can begin to test open-ended questions about issues where change might be useful to increase long-term control. Here are some simple examples:
How are you doing?
What’s worrying you most today?
What do you think would make this better?
How have you been feeling?
Tell me more…
What’s new with your friends?
What do you feel like doing?
Open-ended question invite our aging parents to choose the direction of the conversation. Once they pick the direction, we simply reflect back their thoughts and comments to indicate we are listening and understand their point of view. Although tempting, we need to resist the temptation to interrupt. Interruptions only make matters worse. We need to hear the whole story on a topic. But as the authors point out, we are listening for more than the story. We are listening for “change talk.”
This may be the most important benefit caregivers receive from reading Motivational Interviewing in Health Care. Change talk is where aging parents begin to voice some interest in change. It is a soft signal, more a preliminary musing about what if, wouldn’t be nice, I really need to, it would be better if, and I am sure I can, all examples of change talk phrasing. The most important thing about change talk is that our aging parents are exploring the other side of their ambivalence to change, speculating on how or why it might be worth considering. How we respond to these pre-change-exchanges will have an enormous impact on whether or not change actually occurs.
Motivational Interviewing in Health Care offers a detailed explanation and ample examples of how to develop these moments of change talk into positive changes. Despite its focus on clinical encounters for healthcare providers, it offers adult children a compassionate and effective strategy to explore change topics in a non-threatening, parent-centric style. It is an approach could be a game changer for adult children searching for a new way to help their aging parents make positive changes.
Tags: Aging in place, aging parents, behavior change, Boomers, caregiver, communication conflicts with aging parents, communication problems with aging parents, communication struggles, coping, David Solie's blog, death of a spouse, disability, home health care, How To Say It To Seniors, loneliness, long distance caregiving, long term care giving, Motivational Interviewing in Health Care, moving into assisted living, old age, on aging, the elderly, Unlocking the communication code | Posted under Aging Parents | 1 Comment
Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 01:23 Written by David Solie Monday, 4 July 2011 08:32
This deeply moving article by Linda Kriger was published in 2008: http://www.forward.com/articles/14255/
I have read and reread this tale of estrangement, bitterness, regret, and the search for “repair” because I heard endless versions of it from friends, colleagues, clients, and audience members. I also lived it.
Below is the “comment” I posted to article’s website when I first read it in 2008. In the three years since I wote this, my opinion of my father has “expanded.” Much to my surprise, I have found a window into his suffering. This has given me new empathy for the gap between his dreams and where life finally took him.
Thank you for giving a voice to the bitter outcome many adult children experience with their aging parents before they pass away. We wish it were different but history and personalities bring the drama to its only logical conclusion. But was you pointed out, the death of the parent hardly ends the trauma of such a “poor outcome.” My father and I parted on similar terms, incommunicado and mutually sorry about our biological connection. As Joyce reminds us in The Dead, the departed usually prove more formidable after their gone. My father was not exception. I have danced for years with the guilt, anger, and loneliness of the events surrounding his death. The fact that our relationship was never right from the beginning is no comfort. Even his blatant failings, alcoholism, violence, and a perverse perfectionism are not enough for me to bid him a final and much needed adieu. Instead, my post-death relationship with has all the qualities of emotional quicksand. I scheme, struggle, and sink deeper into complexity. Like you, I find myself circling the issue of forgiveness but never getting it to stick. I think having a life with next to zero nurturing from him, it’s proving next to impossible to find the emotional release I need. This is why your story struck such a deep chord. Lastly, I don’t think it is either smarmy (wonderful word) or too late in the game to want relief. But I also think that these bitter ending are essentially Greek in nature, tragedies of accommodation not assimilation. They are familial dramas that leaves us with the task of orchestrating a “survivor’s compromise” that allows them to be who they need to be and finally gone.
Tags: aging parents, boundaries elderly difficult communication, Caring for aging parents, communication conflicts with aging parents, communication struggles, David Solie, death of parent, guilt, Linda Kriger, Nursing homes, old age, on aging, regret, Seeking Forgives, the elderly | Posted under Aging Parents | No Comments
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