I hear it from families all the time!
“We’d all like to help mom (or dad) and they really need it, but they just will not take help from anyone!”
We all know people struggling with this!
This stress can be even worse when there are concerns for their safety:
“Dad, you can barely see the road, you really shouldn’t be driving!”
It is tough for adult children in this situation because they are watching the living situation and health of their parents deteriorate and often feel completely helpless to change the outcome.
At the same time I empathize with the older adults who have cared for and raised their children and now keenly feel the tables turning. They often fight that change at every opportunity.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Not to worry!
Here are a few strategies you can try to help your loved ones accept needed support:
Strategy #1 – Start Early
The first strategy is easiest!
Break the ice by trying to have a relaxed conversation about caregiving long before a health crisis comes. Look for opportunities to ask questions like, “Mom, where do you see yourself living when you get older?” or “How would you feel about hiring a housekeeper or driver so you could stay home?”
Sowing these seeds early makes every other strategy that much more effective.
Perhaps you’d love to have a discussion with your parents about options such as staying home, long-term care, and assisted living but you feel you don’t know enough? If that’s you don’t worry! Here’s an article talking all about living options and how to choose, and you can also flip through the rest of the resources page to find other info!
Strategy #2 – Ask the right questions
Crafting questions is hugely important. For instance:
The question, “Dad, what’s it like to take care of Mom so much of the day?” is a much better way to communicate than the statement, “ Dad, we think you should get some help so you don’t have to care for mom 24 hours a day”.
The first question allows your dad to open up and share about how much work goes into daily living. He will give out a great deal of information about all the needs they have and also (perhaps even subconsciously?) start to acknowledge how much work it is.
The second statement is very direct and as a result it risks argument and conflict.
This may seem obvious but so often the kids have worked hard to build up their resolve to having the discussion at all, so when it comes time to choose wording they take a hard approach rather than using open-ended questions to guide the conversation.
Remember you can never change someone’s mind, but you can ask questions to help them decide to change their own mind.
Strategy #3 – Make the need for care about you, not them
As I mentioned before it can be really tough for parents to take help from their kids.
So rather than ask them to accept help, why not ask them to help you to worry less, by allowing you to get a caregiver to help them around the house.
You can explain that you feel pressured to be there a lot because you worry about the house and their safety. If they would have someone in to help them a few times a week it would take a weight off your shoulders.
This simple shift can work wonders.
Strategy #4 – Recruit outsiders early
In some cases it’s easier to talk to a professional rather than a family member. This is especially true when the issues to be discussed are personal in nature (such as if they are having issues with personal hygiene, or if they are finding they are having memory issues).
Setting your family member up to speak to a family doctor, social worker, or religious leader (or of course a CalaCare RN Care Manager) can create a bit of much needed space to allow those sensitive discussions to take place.
I hope some of those strategies help!
Of course having a discussion is only the beginning…you have to actually successfully find the right caregiver and the right care plan, and that’s a whole new challenge!
Don’t worry, we’ve got strategies and tips for that too, but you’ll have to wait for next week’s article to see those (the easiest way to catch all the new articles is to Like us on Facebook then you won’t miss a thing!)
Or of course you could always just give us a call and we’d love to chat about your specific needs.
Thanks for reading!