How To Communicate With Your Older Parents So They Hear You
We hope you realize by now that we pride ourselves here at Grace Manor Assisted Living (here in Nashville) for helping more than our residents and their families. We take great pride in helping you, our neighbors here in Nashville who lovingly provide at-home assisted living for your loved ones. Trust us, we know your challenges and consider you all heroes for your selfless and loving investment to family.
An at-home care giver communicated that her mother is 81, her arthritis is painful, but she gets around with a walker. Her mind is okay for now, though she is sometimes forgetful. She feels lonely. Her care giver is worried about her safety and has been telling her for several years that she needs help. She hates the thought of her falling and not having help, There is a fantastic assisted living close by, but will she listen? No! She just stubbornly says that she’s fine so I should leave her alone.”
Well, she’s likely right that her mom would be safer if she had someone checking on her regularly. Also, depending on her mom’s personality, her mom might be happier with the easy availability of companionship that assisted living offers. Why the resistance?
- One is that on some level her mom knows this to be true, but she doesn’t want to give up her right to make her own decisions and she feels pressured to do so.
- Another might be that she just can’t imagine making the move because it’s too overwhelming. Change is generally a challenge for us at any age, but it becomes harder for most people as they grow older.
- One more reason could be that she knows someone who has been forced to move to a facility and that person is unhappy.
It’s a process
We often forget that our parents are adults who have lived long, and in most cases, responsible lives. They may have been poor parents, ordinary parents, or stellar parents, but the fact that we are trying to help them at this stage implies that they most likely did raise us. While occasionally you’ll meet an elder who willingly turns over all decisions to others, most will continue to want their autonomy. They want to make the decisions that rule their lives.
So, when they need help, what do you do? You take a step back and then try a different approach.
When possible talk with your parents about all kinds of things, not just their health and impending frailty. In other words, have real conversations.
Within those conversations, you’ll likely see opportunities to discuss their ideal wishes. Even if they are already at a stage where they probably should make adjustments in how they are living, approach it by asking how they see their future. Let your parent or parents know that you want to follow their wishes if you can, and you will always do your best to care for them, but that you need information in order to do that.
What if help is needed asap?
Try this: Rather than “Mom, you aren’t safe alone and you need help,” say, “Mom, I’m wondering if you could benefit from some help around the house?”
Suggesting some housekeeping help could open the door to the idea. From there, you could move to help with showering, medications, and other daily needs.
If she says she doesn’t want people in her home (she probably will), you could bring up assisted living. Again, mention that she might be able to benefit from this arrangement.
Make it about them, not you
Why does it matter how you present the issues? My mantra is put yourself in their place.
Sometimes it’s about fear. Other times it’s simply about saving face. Whatever the reason, ask yourself how you’d feel if someone decades younger than you suddenly started telling what you needed to do to “stay safe.”
Remember, YOU want them safe. They want to live their lives. Think about where they are rather than your fear for them.
To learn more about our approach to professional assisted living and professional senior living care services, call us at Grace Manor anytime!