Digging In Their Heels


Do you see red flags that your mom and dad aren’t doing as well at home as they used to? Is the housekeeping not up to standard? Is it difficult for them to get to appointments or run errands? Are you afraid they’ll fall in the bathroom?

If this is the case, it seems logical that the next step is to suggest they need help. There are several companies available that can assist with a variety of household tasks. You tell your parents that you’ll make some phone calls and will arrange to have caregivers come in three times a week. They can sit back in their golden years and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that everything is taken care of. Easy, right? Wrong.

It’s very common for older people to refuse the support of caregivers. This resistance often leads to conflict between adult children and their parents. Have you experienced this scenario? Do you think your parents are just being stubborn and in denial about what they can do at their advanced age?

The first step is to put yourself in their shoes. How you would feel if someone said that strangers would now be coming in to clean your house, cook your meals and watch over you as you take a shower. Would you feel a loss of independence or lack of control over your life? Would you wonder what will happen next – a move to a nursing home perhaps?

Be empathetic to their feelings. No one likes to be told what to do, including seniors. Your desire to help is likely well intentioned and stems from your own fears about the changes that you see as they age. It’s important to take a step back and remember that you can make suggestions, but your parents have the right to make their own decisions.

You can guide them along by initiating a conversation. Include them in a discussion about your observations. Ask them how they feel about getting older. Do they have any safety concerns? Are there tasks that they’d rather not do? How is their quality of life?

Do your research and gently introduce ideas. Find solutions to the problems that they’ve identified, not the things that you think need fixing. Present the options and let them think about it. As you age, the processing speed of your brain slows down, and you may find your mom or dad needs more time to come to a decision. Don’t rush it or expect an immediate answer.

Be flexible and willing to try different things. If you hire a professional home care agency, engage them in problem solving. They’ve likely accumulated a lot of experience in dealing with resistance. Chances are good that they know how to get people to buy in to what they have to offer.

Pick your battles and work on one issue at a time. Too much change for anyone can be overwhelming. Let your parents see that you don’t want to turn their world upside down but only want the best for them!

If you would like some objective help as you look after elderly loved ones (who may or may not want your help), Kimbrough Law is here for you. Just give our office a call if you'd like to talk about your situation.

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