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Elderly Parents

10 Ways to Communicate with Elderly Parents Who Don’t Want Help

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If your parents have diminished physical and mental capacities, you may now be the one providing everyday care for even the most basic tasks. This can be challenging. It may also require support or even professional assistance. This is especially true if one or both parents are showing signs of dementia or related conditions.

If your aging parents need help but are resisting it, there are some strategies you can use.

  1. Be gentle when you approach the subject.

Discussing someone’s health and well-being is a delicate matter. An elderly person may react with anger if you mention your worries that they are struggling with memory issues.  The Alzheimer’s Association says, “Give the person time to respond. Don’t interrupt unless help is requested.” This gentleness can go a long way with someone who is struggling with memory issues.

  1. Talk about the issues early.

Begin talking about your parents’ health needs when minor symptoms show up. Don’t wait until the effects of their condition are severe. If you discuss their care needs early on, your parents are more likely to be receptive, and they can feel more in control.

  1. Stay calm, but be persistent.

Since this is a serious matter, you need to insist on having these tough conversations. However, keep your emotions in check. Don’t talk about their health issues when you or they are upset.

  1. Don’t treat them like children.

Your aging parents may have some physical and mental limitations at this stage. Still, avoid talking down to them. Dr. Robert Kane, former director of the Center on Aging and author of “The Good Caregiver,” advises to “Avoid infantilizing your parents. Dealing with a stubborn parent is not the same as dealing with a stubborn child. Older people should be autonomous.”

  1. Let your parents choose.

In the late stages of conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may have no choice but to make decisions for your aging parent. However, if they are still in full control of their decision-making capabilities, you ultimately have to leave the matters in their hands. If they refuse to listen, you may have to step back.

  1. Determine how important it is.

Safety issues and other considerations affecting their everyday health must be discussed urgently. However, if it’s simply something that bothers you, you can probably put off talking about it.

  1. Plan before you have the conversation.

If you know the discussion will be difficult, think ahead. Decide in advance when you’re going to have the conversation, how you’ll bring it up, and what you’ll say. Plan on discussing it in a setting that will put them at ease.

  1. Try to understand their behavior.

Try to put yourself in your parents’ shoes. Realize that there are many emotions that come with aging. Do your best to see the situation from their point of view.

  1. Speak with someone else about your feelings.

If you’re struggling because of your parents’ resistance to getting help, find an outlet yourself. Talk to another family member or a friend. Better yet, speak with your parents’ physician or another medical provider.

  1. Ask them to do it for you.

If your parents don’t seem willing to get help for themselves, tell them to do it for you or the grandkids. Some parents at this stage of life are much more willing to change their behavior for loved ones.

These tips can help ease difficult conversations between you and your elderly parents. Remember to have their best interests at heart so they can get the care they need and have a good quality of life in their final years.

Grand Brook Memory Care has been supporting families on their memory care journey for over two decades. To speak with one of our compassionate team members or to learn more about our specially designed memory care communities in North Texas, Indiana, Michigan, or Arkansas, please contact us today.

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