A Guide To Starting A Constructive Conversation With Mom & Dad

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A Guide To Starting A Constructive Conversation With Mom & Dad

In this world, we’re getting older and living longer, and senior adults are changing what it means to age well everyday. So, how can we help our loved ones, and ourselves, live independent lives for as long as possible?

At Caring Transitions, we understand that talking about underlying issues—independence, health, and loss—is tough(2). It can feel overwhelming, and it's easy to put off as you search for the perfect time, place, and space (2). How you approach these discussions is almost as important as the topics of those discussions themselves (2).

The Conversation Starter Guide is a great resource for you and your loved ones. It contains a step-by-step process and resources created by The Conversation Project, a research study by the Institute of Healthcare Improvement to help improve communication among families worldwide.

Watch the video below to learn more!

Below Fidelity compiled a list of 6 tips for starting a constructive conversation;

  1. Be patient. Recognize the truth behind the saying "old age is not for sissies." Declines in health, cognitive ability, and losing independence are legitimate causes for fear, frustration, and emotional upset.

  2. Pick your spot. Choose a time, space, and place where you and your loved one won't feel rushed. Anticipate interruptions and conversational derailments.

  3. Don't try to tackle everything at once. Start small and celebrate success. Pace yourself.

  4. Don't take it personally. It's rarely about you—aging raises difficult topics and sensitive issues. Reframe what you can do together to help your loved one stay safe and remain independent as long as possible.

  5. Practice. Make notes, enlist a friend to role play, and rehearse the conversation in your head so you can feel confident and relaxed in real time.

  6. Keep talking. Agree to disagree, take breaks, and keep the conversation going over time. Realize the difficult questions take time, patience, and perseverance to sort through.

Try these questions to get started!

  • How do you think you're doing with _____________?
  • What does being able to _____________ mean to you?
  • What would it mean to you if we ___________?
  • How will doing __________help you to _________?
  • What's the next best thing we can do to __________?
  • How would you feel if we ____________?


  1. (63) ABC World News with Diane Sawyer: The Conversation Project - YouTube
  2. Having constructive conversations with aging loved ones & family | Fidelity
  3. Your Conversation Starter Guide (theconversationproject.org)
  4. The Conversation Project - Have You Had The Conversation?
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