While everything seems to be changing at breakneck speeds, the hopes and dreams of what is ahead is a common thread shared by every generation. Getting old is challenging and complicated.

Demystifying Your Aging Parents’ New Stage of Life discusses how understanding the developmental stages of elderly people can help their adult children communicate better with them. Connie Matthiessen explains that elderly people face distinct developmental stages that involve resolving crises related to control and legacy issues.

Control looms large for our parents as they experience the deterioration of their physical health and mental acuity, as well as the loss of their homes and independence and the deaths of friends and life partners. Given these monumental losses, it’s no wonder that elderly people tend to fight for control over the few areas of life they’re still able to manage. At the same time, they’re engaged in an effort to shape and understand their legacy.”

Elderly people’s developmental tasks can conflict with the middle-aged agendas of their adult children, who often interpret their parents’ behavior as a sign of failure or dementia. The article emphasizes that by understanding their elderly parents’ experience, adult children can communicate better with and support them, thus ensuring that their parents enjoy an old age they may wish to emulate.

But experts who study the psychology of the elderly paint a richer, more complicated picture of aging. It turns out that aging involves distinct developmental stages and that elderly people have pressing life tasks they need to accomplish if they’re to end their lives with resolution and meaning. It’s true that aging is challenging and painful — probably more painful than we can conceive. But the experience of aging can also be fulfilling and profound if it’s approached with insight and clarity and with the support of caring children and loved ones.”

“How to Say It to Seniors” by David Solie is a practical guide for communicating with elderly parents and loved ones. The book explores the developmental tasks that the elderly face and how these tasks shape their behavior, particularly when it comes to control and legacy issues.

Much research has gone into understanding and explaining the stages children go through, and this work has helped to shape our modern theories of child development, as well as our contemporary approaches to parenting. Much less attention has been paid to the experience of older people, but geriatric experts contend that humans continue to face developmental tasks into old age.

The book is structured around common communication challenges, such as discussing medical issues, driving, and financial matters. Solie provides specific strategies for navigating these conversations, such as asking open-ended questions and acknowledging the emotional weight of the situation. He also includes examples of conversations between adult children and their parents, which help to illustrate his points.

Overall, “How to Say It to Seniors” is a valuable resource for anyone caring for an elderly loved one. The book provides a framework for understanding the psychology of aging and offers practical advice for communicating effectively with seniors. Solie’s approach is compassionate and respectful, and he emphasizes the importance of listening to and validating seniors’ concerns.


By Connie Matthiessen, Caring.com senior editor

How to Say It® to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders, by David Solie https://www.davidsolie.com/