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Tough Conversations: How to Tell Your Loved One It's Time to Explore a New Hobby


Is your aging loved one still undertaking high-impact physical activities like hiking, camping, or running even though their physical abilities aren’t as honed as they used to be? Addressing the fact that a part of your senior loved one’s routine needs to change is never easy. No one wants to be told that they have to stop doing something they enjoy, even if it’s for the good of their health. Ebenezer Senior Living is aware of how difficult this conversation can be, and we hope this article can provide you with some guidance and confidence.

Pick the Right Time

Talk to them when they’re in a good mood. It’s probably not a good idea to tell your loved one they need to cut back on their hobby right after they’ve finished gushing to you about it. Take them out for a nice meal first or accompany them to a different activity they love doing before broaching the topic. You’ll also want to consider their overall mood. If they’ve seemed down lately, try to talk to them and understand what’s bothering them before initiating the more difficult conversation.

Explain That You’re Worried

You don’t want to make your loved one feel guilty, so it’s important to put the focus on how you feel about what they’re doing and be ready to listen to their side of it, too. Remind them that you care about them and express how much it worries or upsets you to see them undertaking activities that can have a negative impact on their health. If you can, give specific examples of what exactly they’re doing that causes you to worry, why it worries you, and how exactly it makes you feel.

Understand Their Feelings

Your loved one may be defensive when you break the news. Remember to stay calm and sympathize with them rather than getting annoyed – it’s completely reasonable for them to feel this way. Stress to them that you understand how much their hobby means to them and how they feel about it. Let them know that you also want them to keep being happy and healthy. Listen and respond kindly to their justifications. They’ll cool off eventually, but the last thing they need is someone telling them to calm down.

Suggest an Alternative

This might be the most important step in the process. Insisting your loved one drop their longtime hobby should segue to offering an alternative. Take the time to do some research on lower-impact or safer versions of their pastime. Ask what exactly they enjoy about it, too. Suggest that they join a group instead of going on walks alone, or direct them to rail trails or state parks where they can hike instead of rough mountains. You can even offer to join them in whatever alternative activity they choose.

Difficult conversations are challenging, but we hope that these suggestions will help to soften the impact. For more information on dealing with conversations and difficult decisions about aging, visit Ebenezer’s blog or our Decision-Making page.

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Resident looking at some papers with an advisor at Ebenezer Senior Living
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Ebenezer is Minnesota’s largest senior living operator with over 100 years of experience serving older adults. As part of Fairview Health Services, Ebenezer is dedicated to healing, discovering and educating for longer, healthier and meaningful lives. ​

Discrimination is Against the Law. We comply with applicable Federal civil rights laws. We do not discriminate against, exclude or treat people differently because of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation.

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