If you wait for the day an elderly parent or loved one comes to you for help, you may be waiting forever. A tough reality that we all must face when making the decision to explore professional help. However, an additional layer of stress some children or caregivers face is when their parent rejects help or assistance. This can be especially difficult when a senior is living alone and begins having difficulty maintaining the hygiene of the home or themselves. This situation is more common than most people think.
Research conducted at Penn State University explored this issue and found that nearly 80% of children acting as caregivers for an elderly parent had experienced this. This can be extremely stressful if the parent finds themselves in a dangerous situation outside of the home or when no one is around. The choice to move to an assisted living community can improve their lives drastically. Often times seniors do not agree to consider this option until after a significant incident occurs.
Whatever your situation is or the challenge that you face, it can at times cause friction between family members. If you are experiencing difficulty convincing an elderly loved one to agree to getting help, we want to provide you some helpful tips to keep the conversation going.
Here are some top tips to help keep the conversation in a productive direction:
Keep Questions Open Ended: Most discussions or arguments fail to reach a resolution due to the fact that the root of the issue is being misunderstood by either one or both parties. The best plan would be to get to the bottom of your loved one’s hesitation (if they are of sound mind). Emotional attachments to belongings, a long-time home where children were raised, or proximity to friends/places are often where hesitation lies. As we age, our attachment to objects or places only grows stronger. Additionally, the stress of large decisions such as selling a home, condo, etc. is another factor.
Their inability to take the lead on the decision making can cause your loved one to retreat or become defensive. Instead of talking over each other, encourage your parent or loved one to explain their concerns or fears. Be patient and do not interrupt or trivialize their feelings or wishes. Your feelings towards the matter are not as important as theirs at this time. Not that your opinion does not matter, its just not the time for them within this conversation. Your feelings can be expressed to a significant other, a friend, caregiver, etc.
Empathy Matters: Many independent seniors that have been living alone for a number of years, especially if their significant other has passed, can affect their pride and ego. The acknowledgement of the end-of-life phase can be emotionally devastating. The selling of a home or belonging can be one of the last vessels of identity for many seniors. Kind words, understanding and empathy can help the conversation progress rather than demonstrative, brute force tactics.
It may help to explain some of the senior care solutions that are available or seek communities that might provide similar life style services your loved one is used to.
Change is A Journey: Unless your parent or loved one is in some sort of immediate danger to themselves or others through their actions, as a care giver, you must accept this will be a process. Rarely, if ever, these conversations are agreed upon after one discussion. Again, unless the situation is dire, compromise can greatly help. Maybe your loved one will accept a few hours of home health care at the beginning to help them ease into the next step. In the mean time you can together make continued decisions toward the next phase in the process.
At Arbor View Assisted Living we know that change can be difficult. Our experienced team can help put both of your minds at ease and see the positives in the situation. For more information about our services please do not hesitate to contact us directly at (262) 691-7400.