When I talk to my parents and inquire about how they are doing in general or in any specific area: the answer is always we are fine, just fine. What I observe when I am with them is the difference of how they move or operate now compared to previous years. I see a big difference. Is this fine because they really think everything is OK or because they have accepted the changes and I have not?
This is where our communication dance becomes complex. I think we are in a dance where I try to uncover issues and they cover or minimize any issues that come up. My big laugh comes because this is our family pattern in exact reverse. Growing up, my parents asked the questions and I covered up at every opportunity and minimized any issues I had.
I think every family has their practiced communication patterns. I have found they get mixed up or turned upside down as we all slide into different roles based on aging needs and changing abilities.
So, what do you do now? I have found listening and really listening is what gives me the best idea of how my parents are doing. I try to be curious about a topic and ask with interest instead of demanding to know why something happened. This practice has met my need for getting more depth of information from just phone conversations.
Try stepping back and looking at your current communication patterns with your family? Are they working? What would happen if you practiced just listening?