There comes a time when many adult children realize that their aging parents are no longer able to take care of themselves. A lot of heartache and agonizing decision-making can result—especially when mom and dad are loath to admit that they need help.
So when the time comes for mom or dad to stop living independently, how do you convince him or her that a move is in his or her best interest? Here are tips you can put into practice— powerful tools for caregivers that you can use in your efforts to keep your parent safe.
Consult the experts.
According to registered nurse Stella Henry, co-author of The Eldercare Handbook, many aging parents are simply unrealistic in their estimation of their abilities to manage alone. She states that early and open communication between family members is the key to tearing down the walls that the senior might put up. If the groundwork for discussions about future care has been laid down before your parent ever needs assistance, Henry asserts, his or her fears will most likely have been alleviated by the time extra care does become necessary.
Involve your parent’s primary care doctor or geriatric specialist in discussions, if possible. This will ensure the decisions you make together are medically appropriate, and will give your parent additional evidence to support your claims. If he or she is hearing the same message from doctorand family, it may be more convincing.
Develop an advance plan together.
If you want to bring your parent first into your own home before any move to future care in an assisted living facility, it would be wise for you and your parent to sit down and discuss this plan. Make sure that your parents understand that a plan for continuing care must be developed, but also ask for their input on what they would like to see happen going forward.
You might visit retirement communities and assisted living facilities together— in advance— so that your parents have a chance to view potential future homes and make their preferences known. If your parents are resistant to the idea of even visiting a senior living community, ask them to do so as a favor to you. It may help make a visit more palatable to them.
Once your parent sees a positive residential environment there, and that there is nothing to be feared about moving in to an assisted living community, he or she may become less apt to resist considering future care. You could even put a plan in writing together, so that your parent knows that his or her wishes have been heard and understood.
Appeal to your parent’s sense of empathy.
If your parents are able to see and understand that their condition has become a source of concern to you, he or she may ease up on the resistance. Most parents don’t want to worry their children— as you yourself have likely experienced, a parent sees looking out and providing for their kids as a lifelong role.
“Make it your problem instead of your parent's problem," Henry suggests. "If you say 'you have to do this, or do that,' you'll lose them. Instead say something like, 'Mom, I'm concerned about you; it makes me worried to see you like this.'"
But you need to be wary of an aging parent’s attempt to hide his or her true condition, too. And that’s where regular, open and honest communication is again essential. If you are fostering regular, positive contacts with your parents, and they perceive that your concerns for their wellbeing are genuine, they will probably feel more comfortable about being honest with you.