What to Do When Your Parents Need Help, But Won’t Take It

“I need help,” is one of the hardest things for us to say. No one wants to be seen as incompetent or unable to handle their day-to-day duties. Or worse, have their sense of control taken out from under them.

So, when your mom or dad feels you’re making decisions for them, it’s not surprising they fight back. Even if they know they have problems driving, managing their finances or maneuvering through their home, they don’t want to lose their independence like so many of their friends have. But when your loved one’s health and safety are at risk, you can’t stay quiet.

If you’re struggling to get through to your mom or dad, here are some important tips to keep in mind.

  • Pick your battles wisely. Your parents don’t want be nagged at all the time. If there are issues that are merely irritating, like your mom refusing to learn how to use her new smartphone or your dad talking loudly because he won’t put his hearing aid in, just let them go. When you approach them about more serious issues, like developing a long-term care plan or asking them to let others drive them around, they’re more likely to listen.
  • Be respectful, but assertive. When your parents frustrate you, it’s easy for your inner teen to come lashing out. Plan your conversation ahead of time and try to remain calm. Lay out the facts behind your worries instead of playing into emotions and offer suggestions in a straightforward, simple-to-understand manner. Unless your loved one is in a dire situation, a final decision doesn’t have to be made today. If they become angry or frustrated, table the conversation and come back to it later.
  • Find a middle ground that works for you both. If limited mobility restricts your parents’ ability to care for themselves, but they refuse to go into an assisted living facility, be clear about expectations. “Mom, I can’t be here all the time because I have a job, and I have to take care of my kids. Who else can we call on to help?” Then, devise a plan you’re both comfortable with, whether it’s relying on friends as needed, hiring an in home care provider for a few hours a week, or finding senior transportation. Surprising, researchers discovered that focusing on interdependence—a situation in which both parent and child rely on each other—was key in moving seniors to the next step. When a senior looks back on their life and remembers the joy they felt in helping others, they’re more likely to accept the assistance offered and realize that the small loss of autonomy is taking unnecessary stress off their children and family members.
  • Look for a teachable moment. Often, the turning point in getting your loved one to recognize their limitations is an accident or other unexpected occurrence. For instance, if your parent takes a slip on the steps, maybe it’s time to readdress the concerns you brought to them earlier. “Dad, those steps have become dangerous, and I don’t want you to get hurt. Why don’t we go look at that new assisted living center in town—they have first-floor apartments where you can come and go as you please.”
  • As a last result, rely on others. Some parents will never allow their child to them what to do, no matter how right they may be. If you’ve hit a barrier, and your parent’s well-being is at serious risk, it’s time to bring in reinforcements, whether that’s a friend their age they’ll listen to, their healthcare provider, or older family members. In extreme cases in which your parent is in danger or suffering from self-neglect, it may be time to consult with an elder law attorney about conservatorship that gives you control over your loved one’s affairs.

One of the most effective ways to ease your parents into the assisted care they require while respecting their desire for autonomy is to partner with the in home care providers of AccuCare in St. Louis. Whether your loved one needs help with housework a few days a week or requires full-time care, we can customize a care plan specifically for them. To learn more, contact us today at 314-279-0010.

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