Helping elderly parents is never easy, especially when they’re stubborn about maintaining their independence, but these 7 tips should help.
There were roughly 76 million births from 1946 to 1964, a generation known to everyone as the baby boomers. And although nearly 11 million baby boomers passed away by 2012, the sheer number of people reaching the point of needing care is quickly approaching a size that our nation has never seen.
If you’re taking care of elderly parents from the baby boomer generation, you’re probably helping them with everyday tasks such as showering, taking medications, and preparing meals (which often takes a toll on you and can leave you feeling exhausted and guilty for feeling that way).
In-home care can help—but how do you approach the topic with your parent? Read on for 7 tips on helping elderly parents accept the care they need.
1. Have Empathy
Imagine yourself in your parent’s place. After all, if you have children of your own, decades from today, you may very well find yourself in the same situation. It’s not an easy scenario to think about.
Chances are, you might not be open to the idea of having someone come into the privacy of your home, and admitting that you need help with the most basic tasks such as remembering to take medication can be a hit to your pride.
Your parent is probably feeling the same way. That’s why empathy—not sympathy—is vital. (Empathy is when you can recognize how someone is feeling and share those feelings with them.)
If you have empathy, you’ll be able to approach the topic in a sensitive manner and will acknowledge how your parent feels.
2. Start By Asking Questions
A good place to start is by asking your mother or father questions. Ask them what they would do if they fell and you weren’t home. Ask them about the difficulties they have when bathing. Ask about the struggles that come along with cooking. Ask about everything!
These questions give them the opportunity to REALLY think about their situation and possibly recognize some areas of difficulty on their own.
Remember, it’s hard to ask for help! Discussion can lead to recognition and ultimately a willingness to accept change.
3. Research Services
Before you talk to your parent about care options, do your research and see what services are offered nearby.
There are numerous types of care options out there, so have an idea of which caregiver services your elderly parent requires. Do they need help with chores like laundry and cleaning? Do they require regular transportation services? Do they live with you and need 24-hour home care?
If you know more about the care services that are out there, you can approach the topic with knowledge and confidence.
4. Give Them Options
When the time comes to have a care conversation with your parent, approach it with a calm disposition. Tell them that you love them. Explain how difficult it is for you to see them struggling to complete everyday tasks. Tell them you think you know how to help!
Give them options and discuss how much easier their life might be with consistent help. They can use the free time that comes with assistance for their hobbies or to spend with their grandchildren.
If your parent objects or gets flustered and angry, remain calm and ask them why they feel that way. Again, try to see things from their perspective and understand their reasoning.
Maybe you can compromise. Perhaps, instead of hiring a caregiver 7 days a week, that caregiver can come help throughout the 5-day workweek. Or maybe your parent isn’t comfortable with agency staff assisting with personal care (like showering). In that case, you can help them with those services and a caregiver can do other things.
5. Have a Trusted Resource Help You
If your parent is refusing care, you might need to call someone for help. You can enlist the perspective of a health professional (like mom’s family physician of 20+ years) or a trusted religious figure to talk to your parent.
It’s possible that your parent isn’t taking you seriously, because they see you as their child. Or maybe they don’t recognize their need for help (and the stress it’s causing for you). But, if you bring in a trusted figure, it might help them reconsider and take the issue seriously.
6. Take It One Step at a Time
Don’t spring everything on your parent all at once.
Take things one step at a time. First, talk to your parent about how care can benefit them. Next, if your parent is open to the idea, have them meet a care worker or an agency representative. Their expertise may provide an additional level of comfort.
7. Accept Their Choice
Treat your elderly parent like an adult, not like a child. You may believe that you know what’s better for them, but don’t forget that they desire their independence just like you do.
If they are of a sound of mind and don’t have any major safety issues, they should be given the choice to accept care or not. If you force them into doing something they don’t want to do, it can fracture your relationship and make them resent you.
You might be upset if they say no, but remember that as their child you did everything you could to help them. The best thing to do in this situation is to stand by them and be there when they need help.
Final Advice for Helping Elderly Parents
It’s difficult to navigate the relationship between elderly parents and adult children. Even if they refuse care now, maybe down the line they will rethink the issue and be open to having a caregiver.
And when they’re ready, we’re here to help. Contact us to learn more about how our staff is helping elderly parents throughout the local area or take our Health Care Needs Assessment to expedite the process of getting care in your home ASAP!