Responding to negative reactions during home safety conversations

No one is against being safe at home. However, sometimes home safety discussions can bring up strong emotions.

Older adults might be embarrassed that they're struggling with something that used to be easy, or afraid that they might lose their independence. They might feel like their judgment is being questioned.

During difficult discussions, do your best to calmly and clearly share your thoughts, using phrases like, "I am concerned" or "My feelings are." Focus on what you can agree on and how you can work together to improve home safety.

Listen carefully and consider what the older adult says. Remember that what you're talking about probably affects their life every single day.

You and the older adult might have different ways of speaking or thinking about home safety. Home safety discussions can be difficult when:

  • You disagree about whether there is a home safety problem, or what the problem is.

  • You disagree about what's most important. For example, you might be more concerned about safety, but the older adult might be more concerned about staying independent.

  • You disagree about what's a good solution.

  • You use or hear words differently, so that you say and mean X, but the older adult hears Y.

  • You have different communication or decision-making styles.

  • You want different people to be involved when you discuss home safety.

  • How you respond to each other is shaped by family patterns or social roles.

If the older adult has a negative reaction, it can help to ask them why. Try to understand their point of view.

If the older adult doesn't want to discuss it, don't push. You might need to agree to disagree on some things.

It's usually better to drop the subject and discuss it again later. If you understand why the last conversation was difficult, you might be able to find a different way to approach the topic next time.