An evergreen forum topic: Dealing with aging parents

The topic of elderly parents is a great one for forums because everyone has dealt with it, will deal with it, or has observed others (including their own parents) deal with it.

Following are possible approaches which you can adapt for your forum’s purpose.

–          A pre-meeting option:  Ask each member to answer a selection of these questions related to their own parents (http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/info-08-2010/gs_talking_points.html)

–          Begin the discussion with a story.  The following is a well-known one that might set the stage: http://www.snopes.com/glurge/woodbowl.asp

–          Icebreaker: How did you observe your parent(s) talk about and deal with their parents as they became older and needed help?  What lessons did you take away?

–          Presentation/discussion options:

  • One member shares his/her particular situation in typical forum style and others respond with relevant experiences.
  • Two or three members dealing with related issues share mini-presentations, and then others respond with their questions and experiences. (This approach is more complicated than the traditional single-presenter session.)
  • Go around the table asking: What question(s) are you (or your parents if forum members are younger) wrestling with related to this topic?  Record the questions on a flip chart/white board and then decide which ones you want to focus on using these prompts:
    –  What thought provoking questions could we ask each other to help us think about this topic in new ways?
    –  What stories from our own experiences could we share to help each other?

–          Closing exercise: Go around the room and ask each member to share what insight/idea/perspective they are taking away from today’s discussion.

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