Persuading Our Stubborn Older Parents to Get Extra Help

Persuading Our Stubborn Older  Parents to Get Extra Help from Aged Care Support Service

By: Aged Care Support Service  03-Feb-2012
Keywords: Health Care, Aged Care, Health Services

As your parents age they may start to show signs of trouble caring for themselves - convincing mum or dad to accept help can be frustrating and emotionally draining. You may have experience a parents refusing to have a home care worker, others have trouble convincing a parent to sign a health care directive. While there are hundreds of excellent community support services out there, many older people are reluctant to take advantage of them. Your loved one might feel outside help threatens their privacy or independence, or may refuse to admit vulnerability and deny that there is a problem... Extra support can be a very sensitive subject, especially if your parents take a lot of pride in their independence. But as difficult as it may be, it’s important to have the conversation as soon as you see signs that cause you concern. Waiting too long to seek help or backing down at the first sign of resistance can put your loved ones’ health and well-being at risk. Here are some suggestions about how to tactfully talk to your ageing parents into doing something we want and they don’t want. Do your homework and pick your battles ------------------------------------------------------ A word of advice, don’t pick the lifelong habits your ageing parent has and you can’t stand. If it’s not getting in the way of safety, then forget it. You will have a hard time getting them to give these up as most people don’t want to give up habits, even harmful ones. So before you sit down with one or both parents take some time to think about your specific concerns. Start with the big ones that are scary for us all - things like Dad being unable to keep up his personal hygiene routine, or he does not having enough food in the house since Mum died and subsists on biscuits and tea. Are there any other basics that really do involve safety? Ask yourself what type of care your loved ones might need, make a list of top priorities and then research support services in your community and plan the strategy for ‘the talk’. Pick the best time and the best place -------------------------------------------------- Meet with your parents in a comfortable, distraction-free environment where you both feel comfortable to openly and honestly discuss your concerns. Try having the conversation during a time of the day when Mum or Dad is most amenable, like after a cup of coffee and a cake. I personally like to approach the more difficult topics with good food. So when in doubt – eat! Express your desire for their well-being and offer specific examples of the situations that worry you. Listen carefully -------------------- During the conversation, pay close attention to any objections your parents raise. Use this information to adapt your arguments and change your suggestions to better suit your loved ones’ needs. Put the need for change on us, not our parents --------------------------------------------------------------- When we want our parent to make some kind of change, make it our problem and take all the blame. If we are trying to get Mum to accept some home care, think about pitching it as our need, not hers. Here is an example: “Mum, I am such a worrier, I can’t stop. I am losing sleep over you falling over when you clean the bathroom. Please help me. Could I ask you to try a person out to come in and do the bathrooms, and the vacuuming once a week? I’ll help you to find someone. Please, for me? I would feel so much better if you’d help me out. It’s just so hard for me and I am stressed out over this. I’m sorry to be such a pain. “ Use humour ------------------- If we can find a way to get our parents to smile or laugh at all, then the situation has just got a whole lot easier. All nurses know this, when what to convince a patient to do something they don’t want to do, they tell a joke, after the patient has had a good laugh, the nurse can quickly take advantage of that moment and tackle the difficult subject. Laughter is a great way to break down resistance. Decide together ---------------------- It can be hard for your parents to accept help from a person they haven’t met or an organization they don’t know. Arrange for your mum or dad to meet with the service provider, whether it’s a cleaner or a care-worker. As much as possible, get your parents involved in the research and decision making process. They’ll be much more likely to accept support if they have input and control in choosing the service providers. Involve siblings and other relatives who have an interest in your parents’ care. I suggest to pick a ‘team leader’ who can act as a mediator for your parents. The support of aging parents can be a heated issue in some families and getting everyone’s participation from the beginning can minimize conflict now and down the road. Start small --------------- If parents aren’t willing to accept all of the extra support you think they need, try suggesting a minimal, low-commitment service. For example, you might recommend a weekly house cleaner or community transportation service to do the weekly groceries. Once your parents get used to the idea of receiving help, they’ll be more open to other types of assistance. Don’t give up ----------------- There’s a chance your mum or dad might keep refusing help. They may even refuse to discuss the subject. This does not work every time for everything. Our parents may choose misery rather than accepting help if they are determined enough. If this happens, we have still got to try, so don’t give up. Keep raising the issue and gather as much supporting evidence for your position as you can. Show parents you understand and appreciate their concerns, but firmly state why you think they need extra help and how it will benefit them. But keep in mind that as long as your parents are legally capable, the final decision on any support services will ultimately be theirs. Sometimes, you may just have to live with their decision to refuse support. Even if we fail at some things, it’s a lot easier to take if we know we have tried our hardest to help them. There is no need to feel guilty if we have given it our best shot. Get professional help ----------------------------- A qualified expert can offer an impartial assessment of the situation, provide counselling services and connect you with local resources. If the topic of extra support is causing a lot of tension in the family, consider talking with your parent about bringing in an aged care Case Manager, social worker or other professional. The excellent support services available today allows many older people to live independently longer while leading active, happy lives. While it’s never easy to bring up the subject of extra help to a parent who is aging, the conversation is a necessary one. With the right approach, you’ll get your parents the help they need to maximize their quality of life and minimize your own worries. So let’s give it a try on something small to start with. And I would love to hear how it goes. Robyn _________ Aged Care Support Service An Aged Care Case Management Service Zetland NSW 2017 M: 0417 440 610 T : 02 9698 4056 E: [email protected]

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