You want to give your aging parents the best care, but there’s one thing standing in your way: their refusal to accept your help. It’s a challenging situation, and often the heated arguments you have detract rather than benefit your cause.
You’ll be surprised at how many people suffer from this dilemma. They believe that their parents are too stubborn, which prevents them from seeing eye to eye on the care they want to give them. Before you call them to make another set of recommendations, pause to think about how well you’ve been communicating with them first. Have you fairly considered their side of the story? Do you provide them with options that suit not only their needs but also their preferences?
To set you on the right track, here are four communication tips that will surely make your next conversation more meaningful.
Acknowledge that Aging is Difficult
It happens all too often that people offer help to their aging parents without first acknowledging the hardships they are suffering. Aging is a process that that changes your parents’ lives for good. Depending on their health, they might have limited movement, remembering, and other important factors that make daily life easy.
Moreover, you have to imagine how difficult it must be for them to slowly lose their independence. This can trigger depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that result in them dodging every attempt you make to offer assistance.
Instead of bombarding them with one care option after another, take a different approach. Listen to them so that you have a better understanding of their experience with aging. Let them know that you care about their thoughts and emotions and identify the root of their continuous refusal. You might soon find communicating about their future so much easier.
Find Out What They Want
Your parents have an idea of how they want to spend the next couple of years. It might not always be feasible, but asking them about their plans will clarify exactly what their preferences are. Perhaps what you want is for them to live with you in New York, when in fact, they have already looked up options for assisted living with facilities and compelling services and rates. If they bring this up, don’t hesitate to add them to your options.
Continue to work with them about their plans and find ways to help them reconcile their preferences to their needs and capacities. This will take a lot of time and attempts, but the results are worthwhile when you manage to keep the peace with your parents and make them happy.
Never Infantilize Them
Remember that your parents are adults. They may have lost certain abilities, but that doesn’t mean you should treat them like children. They may be refusing your help because you’ve started viewing them as children, which goes against the autonomy and respect they are used to as adults.
Instead of infantilizing them, make an effort to talk to them the same way you did before. This might require more help if they suffer from certain conditions, but don’t hesitate to persist. Regardless of why they don’t want your help, approaching them this way will let them know that you see them as equals, not as a burden or a liability.
Things will not always go your way. When the frustration builds up, it’s crucial that you have someone to support you. For some, it’s their family members and friends, while for others, it’s an actual support group or a therapist.
One of the worst things you can do is to endeavor in this taxing situation by yourself, especially if you’re the primary caregiver. Hearing the love and care of the people closest to you can alleviate your stress and help you think straight about the issues at hand. The more decisions you make from a logical and loving perspective, the better the results will be for you and your parents.
Accept That You Can’t Control Everything
At the end of the day, you have to accept that you can only do so much. If your parents continue to refuse your help, then it’s better to stay back and let the offer stand. Avoid cutting off your communication or damaging your relationship. You’ll want to keep your lines open in case their situation changes or they suddenly want to follow your recommendations.
Regardless, remember that your parents need you to love and support them in many other ways. Be there and treasure each moment.