As our parents and other elderly loved ones age, it’s common for us to increase in concern for their well-being. Perhaps we’re nervous about their ability to drive safely, or we’re careful to ensure that they attend all necessary appointments with their doctor.
Our concern is one of the biggest reasons we begin suggesting that our parents start thinking of assistance — we want to be sure they get needed at-home help with daily tasks, or we want them to live in a place where their needs are attended to on a regular basis.
But what can we do if they refuse help? It’s true that many of our elderly loved ones reject the idea of care, wanting to remain independent, to save on the cost of assistance, or for some other reason.
Here are a few tips that may help when you have “the talk” with your loved ones about care:
Listen and try to see things from their perspective. Aging can be scary. Having to rely on others can be frightening. Your loved one might be anxious about feeling helpless or guilty about being a burden to others. Take time to listen to their concerns and try to empathize with how they feel.
Patiently discuss what help around the home might look like. It may help to look at specific aspects of life with your loved one and discuss how things might be improved with good assistance. The elderly often don’t realize that they’re ready for assistance until they’re able to understand how at-home care can help them accomplish important daily or weekly tasks.
Gently suggest that your loved one might appreciate help doing the weekly shopping, picking up prescriptions, cleaning the house or getting out of the house for a walk now and then. People can reject having decisions made for them. Discuss the many options available to your parents — from occasional care in the comfort of home to full-time care in an assisted living center — and try to let them decide for themselves where in that range they might be.
Regarding at-home care, it’s good to remember that it can be adjusted to the needs of the individual, so it can be as involved (or not) as necessary. Say a loved one doesn’t want assistance because he or she feels it will be too restricting. At-home care can actually increase a person’s freedom by freeing them up to do what they love, and/or assist them in it.
Learn more: Is your mom or dad ready for care?
Share your concerns and discuss various healthcare options. Here is where you can share specific areas of concern that you have for your loved one. Often, hearing about this concern from a beloved child or friend can have a big impact. If you’ve been the primary caregiver but no longer have the time or energy you used to, mention that you would like to bring in other caregivers to help out.
This could be a good way to ease into the conversation about other types of care down the road, too. If you’re able to chat casually about future healthcare decisions before they’re imminent, you’ll all be much more ready to have that talk when it does come.
Learn more: The benefits of at-home care
Get advice from an outside expert. In our in-home consultations, we try to understand what’s best for each client, even if it means that caregivers from Take My Hand won’t be involved. If you’d like to learn more, please reach out. We would be happy to help explain the best next steps to your reluctant loved one.