If you’ve offered advice or voiced concerns to a seemingly stubborn aging parent and were met with resistance, you’re not alone. 77% of adult children believe their aging parents are stubborn about taking advice and assistance with daily tasks. In this blog, we’ll offer tips and suggestions for talking to your loved one about their needs, even when they’re feeling resistant.
1. Offer Respect & Dignity
When approaching your friend or family member, take a moment to recognize the breadth of knowledge and life experience they have. Honoring that life experience is critical to a respectful conversation, and you can do that by:
- Speaking to your parent or loved one as an adult and not a child
- Thanking them for the troubles they endured to limit your own
- Acknowledging their work ethic and the contributions they’ve made
- Recognizing how difficult it can be to let go of control and independence
It’s important to continue to show the respect you have in the past, even as your parents age and their needs change.
2. Acknowledge Their Feelings
Put yourself in your loved one’s shoes for a moment…for 70 or 80 years, you have worked hard, established routines, contributed to your family and community, and perhaps even lived in the same home for several decades. It can be incredibly difficult to move from an “I can do it” mindset to one that is accepting of assistance, especially with the most private needs like bathing or toileting.
A simple acknowledgement like, “I can imagine how hard it must be,” or, “I would feel the same way,” can go a long way in earning trust and setting the stage for future conversations.
3. Ask About Their Questions & Concerns
Have you ever asked your loved one why they’re feeling resistant? Knowing where their greatest concerns lie can help you provide the information and solutions they need to move forward. Common fears and concerns concern having to leave the family home, whether additional help is financially feasible, and losing independence when it comes to routines and decisions. All of these concerns can be addressed with different solutions if you’ve taken the time to get to the root of their worries.
Here are some examples:
If your parent is worried about leaving their family home, you may be able to explore home health options for as long as their needs are consistent with home health services.
If your parent is worried about finances, you may be able to schedule a meeting with a financial planner to discuss the implications of their care needs. Assisted living can be less expensive for those who have the expenses of a household and care at home.
If your parent is worried about losing independence, you can visit assisted living communities and ask to visit with residents about their experience there.
4. Discuss Risks & Benefits
Consider laying out the pros and cons of getting additional assistance in a fact-based list, where you outline both and give them a visual representation of benefits and disadvantages:
Be sure as you work through the list, that you’re allowing them to add items to either column and share their feedback. If three meals a day isn’t a benefit for them because they love to cook, don’t put it on the list. When you’re done with the exercise, it should be an accurate representation of what matters to your loved one.
5. Bring in a Neutral Third Party
Staying unbiased is tough for family members because it’s often been an emotional journey leading to this point. There are feelings of guilt and obligation, especially when the aging loved one is somebody who has raised you or supported you throughout your life. There are worries and fears about their safety and access to services that they may or may not share. By meeting with a social worker (available at prospective assisted living communities) or your loved one’s primary care provider, you may be able to add perspective that is beneficial for both of you.