Caring for elderly parents or taking care of an aging spouse can be challenging, especially when they’re unwilling to acknowledge or accept the need for assistance. As a primary caregiver, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and distressed when you are concerned about your loved one’s safety, yet offers to help are rejected. Perhaps as distressing, when an aging parent or spouse does not acknowledge their changing limitations, they may put themselves in harm’s way by engaging in certain once-routine activities.
Recognizing the need for help in managing the household, giving up driving or accepting in-home care due to physical or cognitive impairments is a monumental step. It’s often fraught with psychological challenges and fears linked to the loss of independence, financial worries, embarrassment, fear of the future and a blow to personal pride. Understanding and patience are crucial when discussing safety and care options for aging parents in order to help overcome these objections.
Broaching this topic with your aging loved ones requires a tactful, sensitive approach. Choose a calm, quiet environment and a time when you’re both relaxed and able to have a serious conversation. Address one issue at a time, ensuring you don’t overwhelm them with a litany of concerns. Remember, nobody responds well to feeling bombarded.
When taking care of elderly parents, it’s crucial to be understanding and supportive. Share your concerns, fears and admiration, ensuring your communication stems from love, not authority. Involve them in finding solutions and ask their advice on handling similar situations. This approach may help them recognize the realities of their situation without feeling targeted.
Communicate your concerns for their safety, well-being and the limitations of your ability to help without guilt. Offer various options that might help, such as breaking up tasks, attending a Senior Center program, organizing community senior transportation or introducing the idea of at-home care services.
Consider engaging a professional, like a Geriatric Care Manager, who can meet with you both or the entire family. An impartial, knowledgeable person can explore the factors preventing your loved one from accepting help and how they can best move forward. Leveraging a professional’s guidance will allow you to admit to your loved one that you don’t have all the answers and turn the process into a journey of exploring the options together.
Negotiate with your loved one if necessary. For instance, if they agree to take a driver’s test or abide by their doctor’s advice, you will respect the results.
Patience is essential unless there’s an immediate danger, which case you must prioritize safety. Change may not occur quickly, so be prepared for several discussions. Be a good listener and learn to read between the lines. Denial is often used to avoid perceived unpleasant or scary situations.
Think strategically about who your parent or spouse listens to the most. Is it a particular adult child, their doctor, lawyer, or accountant? Discuss your concerns with this person and, where there is agreement, let them broach the subject and offer a recommendation.
Remember, as someone caring for elderly parents, you can only do your best. Some people’s stubbornness might outweigh logic, and in these cases, the best you can do is offer your support and assistance when they’re ready to accept it. Be patient, examine your own motives, and don’t hesitate to seek help for yourself too.
Home healthcare services like Boca Home Care can offer support and resources for long-term care to help you navigate these challenging times. For over 25 years, we have assisted clients and their families in caring for seniors at home, from minimal initial help around the house to support in independent and assisted living facilities. Please contact our team to discuss how we can be helpful with your loved one, from leveraging one of our in-house Geriatric Care Managers to referring a home health aide, from a few hours of respite relief to specialized dementia care.