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Having the Talk with an Aging Parent to Get Help

Advice on Approach and Getting Past Barriers

You’re doing what any good person would do, trying to keep tabs on a loved one who’s growing older. You’re afraid to broach the idea of getting involved in their affairs, because you don’t want to hurt their feelings–or worse, start a fight. Maybe you’ve even tried to offer your help, only to get rebuffed.

When a senior repeatedly resists help, it creates a lot of frustration for the son or daughter or spouse. People will make unsafe and uninformed decisions, and you just want to throw your hands in the air and say, ‘I’m done.’

Getting Past Your Frustration

The first step is understanding that your loved one isn’t necessarily just being stubborn.

It’s more about them being in denial of their actual abilities, from their eyesight to whether they’re strong enough to handle the stairs. It may take Dad slipping on those last two steps and getting a big bruise on his behind for him to realize. However, we recommend not waiting for a crisis to “have the talk” about planning for senior care. Waiting for a crisis will limit your choices, ability to acclimate to a senior care community and will limit your independence once you make the move.

Even if your loved one does grasp the situation, accepting your help can feel like surrender. That final time they hand over those car keys and know they will never go to the store by themselves again, it can feel like a loss of independence and purpose. What you can share with them is that moving to assisted living is so that they can have MORE independence. Assisted Living provides the supports for daily life activities, maintenance, and other conveniences to help give them back more of their life. Our Aspire Lifestyle™ also helps spark their purpose and passions to live a better quality of life.

Having the Talk

Here are tips for that difficult conversation about taking on some things your loved one can’t or shouldn’t be doing anymore.

Never present it as an ultimatum: ‘If you do that one more time, I won’t keep bringing the grandkids to visit.’ Like any transition in life, it has to be processed. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of shaming or guilting your parent. You might be thinking, “Doing this for you is already hard enough; don’t make it any harder” or “I never signed up for this.” But saying it to them could increase whatever anxiety or depression they’re having about aging, making it even harder to accept your help and pushing the problem down the road. Bringing a neutral party into the conversation can often break a stalemate.

Try to have the advice come from someone else–me, a doctor, a mental health assessor. It takes the weight off the caregiver as the bad guy. You don’t have to be the one to pull the plug, so to speak. If it’s you as the caregiver harping on it, they’ll drag their feet.

Find a quiet space where you can be together alone to have a real conversation. Be kind and empathetic, slow down and ask, “what is the real reason they don’t want to move?” Oftentimes seniors don’t share the real fears of moving because it’s not easy to address feelings of fear, changes, and purpose. These fears could be, “Will I be accepted? What if I don’t know anyone? I’m losing everything, what will I have control of?” Address these real barriers with the senior care advisor aka sales manager, and they will help address those concerns. How we onboard new residents and help welcome them into the community. This will not only give you peace of mind, but will aid in your parents feel more comfortable about the decision to move.

Accepting What you Can't Control

In the end, your parent is still in control. Just because you choose to watch out for them or it’s fallen to you, it doesn’t mean they’ll let you make all the decisions while they’re still living in their own home. So expect to draw on your deepest reservoir of patience.

People aren’t going to hear a recommendation just once and accept it. People need time to weigh their options. Reassure them that you’re there for them and will do everything you can for their safety, and when they’re ready to make those brave steps for change, you’ll be there for them no matter how long it takes. Wrap them in support. Also, loop in the team at the senior care community for ideas. They could pair them up with some longtime residents at the community for lunch to help them have a conversation with individuals who have been through the same journey of moving.

For more information on how you can support your parent in their journey or get tools and resources to help them navigate, contact our community at 320-403-2140

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