Understanding Aging Parents & Coping with Resistance

Son embracing father while struggling with understanding his aging parent
If you are searching for care for your loved one, chances are it’s because they have come to a point where they are starting to have mental and/or physical struggles. 

Perhaps it’s a case of mental confusion, a physical change or hardest of all, a total or partial loss of independence. 

As you can imagine, these losses are difficult for individuals to understand and deal with. Accepting care can bring about what we might consider stubborn behavior. 

Your aging parent or loved one may have concerns about associated costs, think it is a sign of weakness to accept help, or even feel they are becoming a burden to the family. What you need to do is figure out the best way to show that you understand your aging parents and how best to approach them about their need for senior care while assuring them they do not need to worry.

Here are some tips that the Mayo Clinic gathered regarding starting communication about the need for home care.

Timing

Choose a time when you and your loved one are relaxed. This can be a very emotional conversation, so it’s best to have it when tensions are low. 

Consider preferences

Ask questions about your loved one’s preferences. For example, what type of help do they want? Don’t just assume, regardless of their position, that they are unable to discuss care preferences. 

You should not dictate what is going to happen in your aging parents’ life without their input. When possible, attempt to make this a joint decision. 

Don’t do it alone

This isn’t a conversation you have to have on your own with your mom or dad. You can enlist the help of their other adult children or close and trusted family members to have this conversation. Sometimes, the more people involved who show they care and come with the same message, the better. However, you don’t want your aging parent to feel like he or she is being attacked, so be sure to take a careful approach when enlisting other family members for the conversation. 

Don’t give up

If they do not want to discuss the issue the first time, consider the first conversation a starting point and try again later. Remember, this isn’t always an easy discussion to have or an easy idea to wrap your mind around, especially depending on the health issues your parents are experiencing. Give time if needed, and try again. 

Suggest a trial run

Instead of going from 0-60 with a caregiver, go from 0-20. Allow your aging parent to get used to the idea of long term care by meeting a caregiver and having a conversation or agreeing to try out the services for one week. Then, you can follow up with another discussion after the fact. 

Enlist the help of a professional

Your loved one may be more willing to listen to a doctor, law, or care manager about the importance of receiving care. If possible, find a professional who your aging parent has a close relationship with or trusts instead of a new person. 

Explain your needs

They may be more likely to accept care if they understand that seeking care for them will actually be a benefit to you. In this case, you can frame it in a way that seems like you need someone to take over some of your duties related to them, so you have more time for your personal responsibilities. Don’t make them feel like a burden, but understand the help is more about you and less about them. 

Pick your battles

In making decisions about your aging parent’s care, focus on the big picture. There will be many decisions that need to be made, and it’s not worth it to have a battle over every one. Instead, your focus should be on winning the war, securing quality and consistent care for your parents. 

Prolong independence

Your aging parent wants to feel that they will be able to prolong their independence and stay in their home, even with care. Explain how bringing care into the home to assist with daily living activities is one of the best ways to do that and the benefits compared to going to a nursing home or assisted living facility. 

Cope with the loss of independence

Help them understand that having someone around is a good thing. It will help them stay active, maintain relationships and develop new interests.

Understanding your aging parents & their resistance takes time

The hope is that you have started having the conversation about care for your older parents early. Being proactive about care can take a lot of the stress out of the equation. 

You can feel satisfied that your loved one will have the care they need while they are more comfortable with the situation when the time comes. 

Just be sure to keep your loved one involved – it’s one of the best ways to understand your aging parent through this process. They are just as scared as you care, so be there for them. Explaining every step of the process can help promote a positive outcome.