Becoming our parents’ parent may be a role many of us find ourselves in as our parents get older and need more assistance. But the role reversal of caring for Mom and Dad, who once took care of us, isn’t an easy transition for even parents and children who have the best relationship. Our parents may resist the idea of assistance, despite their clear need for such.
To help senior parents accept a helping hand while maintaining their dignity, Leslie Kernisan, MD, a San Francisco geriatrician, recommends the following four resistance training tips (with editorial comments added by us):
- Rule out cognitive function issues first. As people age, it’s common to experience decreased brain function that can affect logical decision-making. Cognitive impairment can sometimes be reversed (as in the case of delirium from an illness or hospitalization, malnutrition from a poor diet, or depression). Or, there may be an underlying problem such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. If cognitive problems are suspected, get help from the physician.
- Listen to, consider, and validate your parents’ perspective. Emotions can run high when it comes to debating the need for help. Utilize active listening so that everyone involved in the conversation knows that they’ve been heard. Having a mediator, such as a therapist or facilitator or a geriatric care manager, can also help keep the discussion moving and productive.
- Discuss goals, and try to compromise. Common goals of aging parents include staying at home as long as possible, staying in control of their daily lives, maintaining quality relationships with loved ones, and keeping pain and suffering to a minimum. Surprisingly, safety may not be a top priority, especially if it conflicts with independence. Compromising may be necessary to come to decisions that are acceptable to both you and your parents. The important thing is to validate what is most important to the aging parent first, and try to accommodate for that. It may not be the same priority for all.
- Separate your needs from those of your parents. While difficult to admit, sometimes our intentions for our parents stem from an underlying issue, such as guilt, sibling conflict, a need for control, or simply fear of the many unknowns that occur as our parents age. Dr. Kernisan suggests creating a list of your own fears and wishes about your parents, and then try to address those while honoring your parents’ goals as well.
Read the full article from Next Avenue for more tips on helping your senior parents accept the need for help as they age.
Live Free Home Health Care has a series of questions to ask yourself to gauge whether your loved one needs help at home. Whether your loved one needs assistance with small tasks or recovering from a serious illness, the caregiving experts at Live Free Home Health Care provide quality in-home elder care supervised and coordinated by our registered nurses. Live Free Home Health Care serves Central New Hampshire and the Lakes Region and is the preferred home care provider for Taylor Communities.
Contact us today by phone at 603-217-0149 or through our online contact form to schedule a free in-home assessment of your needs, and learn how we can help your senior parents stay independent.