What to Do When Elderly Parents Won't Take Your Advice
October 24, 2017
Watching a parent age can be difficult and even frustrating, especially when their health is deteriorating and their daily living routines are impacted. Out of respect for our elders, we’re often worried about crossing the “parental guidance” line, yet important decisions should be made with all family members in mind.
Amanda Conners discussed hiring a Home Health Aide to care for her parents after her father, Joe, broke his hip. Theresa, Amanda’s mother, adamantly opposed having an outside aide in their home, but soon found it difficult to bathe Joe, and became overwhelmed with Joe’s therapy schedule, medications and other needs.
At first Amanda reprimanded her parents for being stubborn, but this only made matters worse. Joe demanded Amanda not treat her mother like a child, and insisted they could manage. After some heated discussions, however, Amanda decided to sit her parents down to discuss their situation.
In order to influence her parents, Amanda followed the advice of leading experts. First, Amanda explained how their decisions had impacted her. She asked them to hire an HHA “for her”, to relieve her anxiety and worries. She addressed each of their concerns one-by-one, respectfully weighing their objections and countering them with objective and practical solutions, trying her best to set emotions aside. Amanda even allowed them to “negotiate” with her, agreeing to hire a part-time HHA to test the waters.
While every family is unique, experts suggest trying these other techniques to help win parents over:
Try to understand their motivations. What you believe is a “stubborn” attitude could have roots in something much more concrete and circumstantial.
Don’t blame yourself if your parents won’t concede to getting help.
Find outside help if you’re feeling angry or frustrated about the situation. Consult a counselor, friend or other family members to help you cope.
Pick you battles. In other words, allow your parents some leniency in making decisions as long as they don’t put them in harm’s way.
Think ahead and plan for contingencies. Things don’t always go as planned, so discuss what to do in these worst-case scenarios. In some instances, this may mean a parent must relinquish their personal choice for safety’s sake.