Senior woman with her caregiver at home holding hands

Your Guide to Convincing Elderly Parents to Accept Help

It can be emotional when dealing with the changes and challenges that come with caring for aging parents. The people who were once the authority figures in your life take on a different role and now require an entirely new kind of support from you. “Caregiver Stress” is a common term being discussed everywhere from The Today Show to medical office and research facilities. And while caregivers work to manage the stress of their new responsibilities, aging parents are trying to navigate their new normal, as well.

Conversations with aging parents often become more complex when health, memory or safety issues enter the picture. Maybe your parents are no longer able to drive on their own safely or maybe they are struggling to keep the house clean. No matter the challenge, beginning a conversation about change, and convincing elderly parents to accept help, can be complicated. It sets the entire family up for success if caregivers are educated on having these tough conversations and are prepared to handle the emotions behind them.

Talking About Change with Elderly Parents

Change can be tricky at any age. Change brings new feelings, requires emotional adjustments and can bring out new fears. In order to create a more positive scenario, it is important to open the lines of communication.

Conversations with aging parents are challenging for many reasons. First, the parent may be anxious and overwhelmed by the topics and the road ahead; this often presents as a stubborn aging parent. Second, caregivers may be hesitant to approach a difficult topic, leading to an argument where it seems the caregiver is struggling to deal with parents who don’t listen. When approaching these emotional conversations, it helps to be prepared. Here are a few tips:

  • Evaluate the situation so you can clearly outline your concerns.
  • Empathize with your parent’s feelings; you may think you have to deal with parents who don’t listen, but it could be their fear of the unknown is driving their responses.
  • Start conversations before there are serious safety or health issues.
  • Focus on the positives of the situation and what your whole family wants to see as an outcome.
  • Share success stories from friends, loved ones or professional experts.
  • Make sure to put all the options on the table and start with small changes first; it may be easier to get elderly parents to accept help when they understand that the help can be on their terms.
  • Allow your elderly parent to make decisions and ask questions.
  • Listen as much as you speak during the conversation.

Breaking Down Barriers to Accepting Help

We can each say we understand that the realities of aging can be difficult. However, we don’t know the emotional impact until we have lived it. Working to understand the feelings and fear behind the situation can prevent caregivers from writing off emotions as “parents who don’t listen” or feel their elderly loved ones are just being “stubborn aging parents”.

Aging parents are in a new stage of life with all new and unique fears, motives, thoughts and emotions. In order to break down walls and limit resistance to change and to accepting help, an empathic and supportive approach is encouraged:

Look for the underlying issues. When attempting to get elderly parents to accept help, it is best to understand why they are refusing. Are they afraid of sacrificing independence? Are they afraid you are taking control? Do they have financial worries? It is best to know, rather than to assume, where their concerns come from.
Recognize that autonomy and independence are important. Present options, give examples, explain through different scenarios. Create a situation where your elderly loved one can make the decisions that allow them to stay in the driver’s seat and have the confidence of being in control of their own life.
Role reversal is complex. Caregivers may feel they are forced to deal with parents who don’t listen or stubborn aging parents, but there are many complicated factors at play. During the teenage years, parents often say the same things about a teen who is pushing boundaries. Empathy is the best source for understanding and compassion.
Trust is key. In order to get elderly parents to accept help, some people attempt to avoid confrontation through tricks or untruths. The best way to move forward is with trust, which means being honest with your parent or parents. To keep the conversation productive, you may choose to say things like, “Let’s try letting a service handle the lawn work” rather than using the word “help”. However, this statement is still straightforward and honest about what will happen.

No matter how hard you try to get elderly parents to accept help, they may refuse. When you feel you are no longer making progress in the situation, it is okay to step back and let your parent’s choice stand. This may create a situation where your elderly parent seeks out your help in the near future or it may allow your parent to realize his or her limitations. Either way, the most important thing is for your elderly parent to recognize that you are a resource and will be there for them no matter what.

Planning for the Future

Once a caregiver recognizes that an elderly parent needs more help than can be provided at home, many families look to senior living facilities. Assisted living facilities provide comfort to families by supporting, and even improving, your loved one’s wellness, health and well-being. From dining and daily activities to socialization and safe medical care, assisted living can be beneficial to all involved.

Are you ready to discuss assisted living options? Wesley Court Assisted Living creates a personalized care experience to help your elderly loved one feel right at home. Call 864-599-9929 or contact us to schedule a tour today!