One of the main ways to help your aging parent is by providing assistance with end-of-life planning. This can involve anything from helping them create a will or setting up funeral arrangements, but it might also be as simple as letting them know that you are there if they want to talk about death and dying. Another way is through finances—if you have some money saved yourself, this could mean becoming an executor for their estate so they don't need to pay any extra fees on top of everything else. You may even consider giving them enough cash each month so all bills are paid easily without having to worry about being late on payments again in the future... However sometimes help starts slowly, like when someone provides some assistance with big household chores.
Financial exploitation is common when an elderly parent with cognitive impairment requires in-home care or a move to senior living. This can lead to difficulty managing finances, as well as physical and mental decline for the person.
It can be difficult to talk to your aging parents about needing help, but when they refuse you may feel frustrated and helpless. If this is the case, try looking at it from their perspective in order communicate effectively with them through sympathy.
Stuck with an aging parent who refuses any help? Follow the tips below to figure out how you can help your parents even if they're not receptive.
You Are Forever the Child
It can be tempting to take over when your parent needs help. However, trying to solve the problem might cause more problems than it solves.
Your child is doing everything they can to dismantle your authority and make you feel like a failure in front of everyone. You decide enough is enough and say something about it, but nothing seems to work.
As an aging parent starts to need help, they begin feeling like a burden on their children. However, your parents still wish to maintain their independence and autonomy while also remaining self-sufficient in daily tasks.
Communicate in an empathetic way, acknowledging the fact that your parent is still a powerful adult child. This power implies they can make their own decisions; however you don’t need to present everything as choice. Giving them opportunity for input helps level playing field and makes sure they are heard too! You might not always be happy with what choices parents choose but it's best if everyone gets some say regardless of status.
Start the Planning Early
Start conversations about advanced planning as early as possible. It can save time and reduce stress later for you both, especially if your parent becomes sick or disabled during a crisis.
Preparing for the end of life is an important topic that people may neglect to discuss. To prepare, you can look at and print advance directive forms specific to your state.
When considering medical interventions, difficult decisions may arise in regards to feeding or breathing tubes. Discuss funeral planning, healthcare wishes and estate plans when discussing this topic.
How does your parent feel about assisted living? Are they willing to consider it, or do you want them to remain at home? Assistive housing can provide a safe and comfortable place for seniors. In addition, there are many different types of care options available in these facilities such as activities groups and other social events that will help their quality of life while continuing the independence that is so important for older adults. Have you considered what costs would be associated if your loved one did move into an assistive community?
Meeting with an estate planning attorney can be very helpful when your parent needs help. When you have access to and understanding of their financial situation, everyone will make informed decisions. There may also be questions that someone else should answer so it is beneficial for a third party to address them as well.
Always, Always, Always Show Respect
By listening to the other person and showing respect, you will be much more likely to get your point across. Getting angry or upset is not going to help anything; it may even cause a defensive reaction that's hard for both of you (and everyone around) very uncomfortable with.
When it comes to conversations, always remember that you're the child and your parent wants respect from you. Resist interrupting or jumping into their ideas because they see themselves as superior in those situations. However, if there is something on your mind then say what's up without fear of judgment which can make any conversation better for everyone involved!
If our parents really wanted to do something and we think it's a bad idea, is that enough reason not to help them carry out their wishes? It might be the case. But what if your parent wants you involved in her life by helping her with certain tasks or living nearby so she can get assistance when needed? What should matter most (and what my mom taught me) isn't whether I agree with someone else’s decision but how they feel about it.
The fact of the matter is, self-determination means they are entitled to make bad decisions. If our parents really wanted to do something and we think it's a bad idea, is that enough reason not to help them carry out their wishes?
Don’t be that ‘Bull in the China Shop’
When you rush to help your parent, things could go wrong. For example, if you came in too hastily during an emergency and knocked over their prized china collection on the way there- it would be a disaster! The best thing for both parties is to take a breath before rushing into action or talking about issues with them so that emotions don't get out of hand. It's also helpful coming prepared by organizing thoughts before speaking up at all times when interacting with parents can avoid much negative impact down the road.
It is important to approach the conversation in a collaborative way. For example, you could say something such as, "We have a problem so let's work on this together and find solutions."
Enlist siblings or other family members to help you strategize before meeting with your parents. Work together as a united front but focus on the purpose of conversation—avoiding people derailing it.
Be Honest – Be Calm
Lying to convince aging parents they need help may backfire on you. Not only will it breach trust, but could risk your entire relationship with them in the long run.
While it's important to identify a problem, you don't want to overemphasize the issue. You might cause panic or make them feel like they need immediate action. As mentioned above, your concern may be different from theirs and this could lead for miscommunication if not explained properly.
It's okay that your parent is anxious during this difficult time. Anxiety makes it harder to make good decisions, which might mean they are not acting in their best interest or yours right now. If you stay calm though, hopefully they'll be more likely to follow suit!
Choose Your Timing Appropriately
The best time to meet with your parent is when they are in their most alert state. You know them better than anyone else, so think about the times when they seem at their worst and take that into account while making a decision on when would be appropriate for an intervention meeting.
If your parent has sundowning, it might be a good idea to schedule appointments for the morning. Sundowner's is when people with dementia are more confused and anxious later in the day than earlier on. This can make discussions difficult as they may not remember events from yesterday or what you're even talking about right now!
This doesn't just apply to those who live at home either; if someone gets admitted into hospice care late afternoon/early evening because of their condition, family members should try scheduling meetings then too so that he or she isn't left out entirely during this time since his mental faculties aren’t always reliable enough anymore.
If possible, consider involving other siblings to strategize a time for the discussion that isn't during a full-blown crisis. Though it can feel like having an impromptu conversation at just the right moment could be better than scheduling one, don’t use that as reasoning to avoid discussing difficult topics indefinitely.
Expect Initial Denial
Going into the conversation with your family member about needing help can be difficult. Maybe they will deny it, and you'll need to prepare for this before going in.
An elderly person who denies a problem can have difficulty understanding their own limitations. This denial often results from fear of losing control and independence, which is also a powerful defense mechanism that distorts reality in ways that are hard to understand. It's not unusual for an older adult with impaired vision or poor eyesight to deny needing glasses when you see how blurry the world looks through them yourself!
Fighting with your parents about their drinking may result in them becoming more stubborn. Be patient and understanding.
Have Solutions in Mind
When talking with your elderly parent, come prepared to the conversation. Prepare yourself by calming down and coming up with ideas for how you can address problems that arise while discussing them in a calm manner.
Asking your parent for opinions and ideas can help you solve the problem together. You may want to anticipate some resistance because of financial costs, but it is possible that you could pay yourself or find a different way to offset those costs.
Talking with parents about their specific needs in order to create a plan helps both parties reach an agreement on how care would be paid for. If there are any potential problems before they even start helping out, then everyone will feel more at ease moving forward.
Be Willing to Compromise
Sometimes one small step is enough to solve the big problem. You may need several steps along the way, but remember that they will eventually get you there if you keep working at it!
If your parent needs in-home care, offer them a trial period of you being their caregiver. For example, suggest two to three hours per day for one week with the option to cancel at any time if they are not comfortable or unhappy with it.
When it's time for assisted living, tour a few places and then pick your favorite. You can also go on a respite stay in some senior communities to get an idea of what life is like there before committing fully.
Medicare can offer paid home health services as a time-limited option. This helps to introduce the idea of help in the home and addresses financial concerns because it lets you control your parent's budget for their care.
Revisit the Issues Another Day
Don't expect to fix everything overnight. In a crisis, it can be tempting to try and do too much at once but this should not happen because you could just make things worse! Try your best not have any expectations of what should or shouldn’t get done in an ideal situation that has been turned upside down by a crisis.
If a discussion gets heated or contentious, it's time to end things. Sometimes trying to resolve conflict only makes matters worse! Make a diplomatic exit and come back another day for further conversation. Change the subject before saying goodbye—you can always try again later on when everyone has calmed down from their initial emotions as well as possible.
Parents are often overwhelmed with feelings of fear, uncertainty, and helplessness when their teen is considering sex. Let your parent know you understand how difficult this conversation can be for them by empathizing with their emotions. Remind them that while they have strong opinions about why your decision to engage in sexual activity may not be best at the moment; ultimately it's up to you if/when these decisions will take place in life. Schedule a time to come back or revisit once both parties feel more prepared for what might ensue during conversations regarding sexuality moving forward after listening carefully today.
Helping is About Small Steps
Sometimes, it can be difficult to convince your aging parent that help is needed. However, you are not alone in this struggle as other adult children face the same problem at some point in their lives too!
Caring for aging parents can be tough, but it's worth the effort if you give your best.
Steve Schafer is the founder of TheEulogyWriters and the author of hundreds of heartfelt, wonderful eulogies. He lives in Michigan and has been writing eulogies for well over thirty years. The articles in this blog are designed to help people through the process of losing loved ones and exploring issues in the aging process.
The Eulogy Writers
4092 Old Dominion Dr.
West Bloomfield, MI 48323
Writers: Steve Schafer, Ralph DiBiasio-Snyder, Abi Galeas, Miriam Hill
Steve's Personal Cell Phone: (734) 846-3072
Our email address is: Write4Me@TheEulogyWriters.com