It can be very challenging to support an aging parent, especially navigating how to effectively communicate with them. Unfortunately it is common for elderly parents to refuse help. Researchers at Penn State University found that 77% of adult children experience difficulty getting their elderly parents to take advice or accept help with daily tasks. The bright side is that these situations are not hopeless.
Senior health professionals insist that the following steps can help relieve the resentment and anxiety that comes with assisting elderly loved ones who continue to refuse help.
1. Try To Understand Their Thoughts And Feelings
For some, getting older and aging can be a tough reality to grasp. When communicating with an elderly parent it is important to understand their feelings. This is especially important when suggesting care or services they have never previously needed.
In times when an elderly parent is difficult to get through to, ask yourself these questions about your parents’ behavior:
Is this action a habit?
Are they concerned about losing independence?
Is depression or anxiety taking a toll?
Are they confused or suffering from dementia?
What could be causing them fear?
Getting to the root of why your parents are behaving a certain way can help guide you to making positive changes for them.
2. Find Solace In The Situation
Even though you have the best intentions for your parents, they are still in control of their own lives and care options. They are adults, who possess the right to make decisions, even if you may not think they are the best choices.
It is a difficult fact to accept, but realizing that they are in control of their own lives may take some weight off your shoulders. It could also potentially enhance the relationship you have with your elderly parent.
3. Know When To Get Involved
You’ve heard the advice to “pick your battles.” This advice is especially helpful for communicating important advice with your senior loved ones.
No one likes to be nagged or pushed into doing something. People like to come to decisions on their own, and often do not want to change their minds.
Of course there are probably numerous changes you believe your loved ones should make. However, when it comes to suggestions like your parents updating their phone, joining a fitness club, or canceling their cable, or any other helpful but nonessential task, it is often best to leave those decisions to them.
Instead, when giving your parents advice, focus on the most important issues. Matters that involve their safety and health should be the priority in these discussions.
It is also wise to space out your suggestions instead of giving them all at the same time. Doing this can make your loved ones feel bombarded and defensive. Choose your timing wisely and you are more likely to have a positive, productive conversation.
4. Treat Your Aging Parents Like Adults
When your parents get older, it can be confusing and frustrating. At times it may feel as if the parent-child roles have been reversed. Instead of them attending to you, you are now attending to them. It is easier to assist an elderly parent refusing help when you approach them with respect and acknowledgement.
Do not infantilize your parents.
Your goal should be to ensure your parents are receiving the best care possible. Belittling them is not going to help you achieve that goal.
Treating your elderly parents like the adults they actually are will get you a lot further. When helping your parents remember to take their medications, or even getting treatment for various health concerns, approach it like you would with any other adult.
Keep your voice calm and collected. Do not embarrass or scold them. Treat them with dignity and respect. These tips will help you engage with your senior loved ones in a more positive way.
5. Remind them of their children and grandchildren who love them
Your parents might not want to make a change for just themselves, especially if they have been living the same way for their whole lives. However, they may be willing to make a positive change in their lives for a loved one. Reminding them of their grandkids or family members who love them could put everything into a new perspective for them.
Don’t be afraid to express how their actions are affecting you as well. Relay to them that by following your advice, you will feel much better about their current situation. The goal should be for everyone to have peace of mind about their situation.
6. Include Your Parents In Future Plans
Knowing that they are still included in future plans may help motivate your elderly parents to begin seeking out the appropriate care. Especially for those aging parents dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, reminders of important future plans can be extremely helpful and ease some of their anxiety.
Talk about upcoming events frequently. Events like anniversaries, graduations, and weddings are things to look forward to that can keep them motivated and engaged. Put the dates on a calendar they can access easily, and share in their anticipation of the event.
Everyone craves inclusiveness. Make sure your parents know you want them around, and they will often be more likely to listen to your suggestions.
It is always wise to listen to your parents’ needs and wishes when they express them. You may have the purest intentions when assisting them, but remind yourself that they still have autonomy over their decisions. Letting them keep that sense of independence is important for their outlook on aging.
Whenever an important decision or conversation arises, ensure that your standpoint is coming from a place of love and care.
Finding the balance between your aging parents’ wants and needs will make assisting an elderly parent that is refusing help less stressful.
The Next Best Step
Making decisions about senior care can seem overwhelming, especially when communication with the seniors does not go as planned.
Sometimes it is best to let an unbiased professional step in and help make decisions.
Florida Senior Consulting helps seniors decide their next best steps.
We have certified staff, licensed nurses, and decades of experience in the field. We are a Florida-based company with expert knowledge of the Florida senior market. While senior care options can seem confusing, this is all we do.
Senior living should be on your terms, and the choice should always be yours.
Let us help. Call us, and we will answer all your questions and help you decide what is best for you or your senior loved one.