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When your aging parent won't accept help

Posted on December 27, 2016 at 7:00 AM
Here are nine strategies to help you overcome the objections of a reluctant loved one according to Start Early Ideally, families have relaxed conversations about caregiving long before a health crisis. Look for opportunities to ask questions like, "Mom, where do you see yourself getting older?" or "How would you feel about hiring a housekeeper or driver so you could stay home?" Be Patient Ask open-ended questions and give your loved one time to answer, says Senior Care advisor Mary Stehle, LCSW. "You can say, 'Dad, what's it like to take care of Mom 24 hours a day?'." But be warned: Conversations may be repetitive and tangential, veering off-topic. It may take several talks to discover the reason your mother, a meticulous housekeeper, has fired five aides in a row is simply that they neglected to vacuum under the dining room table. Probe Deeply Ask questions to determine why an elder refuses help -- then you can tailor a solution, says Kane. "Is it about a lack of privacy, fears about the cost of care, losing independence or having a stranger in the house?" says Kane. To build trust, listen with empathy and validate rather than deny your loved one's feelings. (Learn more about starting a conversation about care with your parent) Offer Options If possible, include your parent in interviews or in setting schedules, says Stehle. Let them choose certain days of the week or times of day to have a home health aide come. Emphasize an aide will be a companion for walks, concerts, museum visits and other favorite activities. (Find a senior care aide.) Recruit Outsiders Early "Sometimes it's easier for a parent to talk to a professional rather than a family member," says Cohen. Don't hesitate to ask a social worker, a doctor or nurse, a priest or minister -- even an old poker buddy -- to suggest your parent needs help. Prioritize Problems Make two lists, says Cohen, one for your loved one's problems and another for the steps you've already taken -- and where to get more help. "If you don't categorize your efforts, caregiving becomes this huge weight," says Cohen. Writing it down and numbering by priority can relieve a lot of stress. Use Indirect Approaches If your father has dementia, offering less information may be more effective at times, suggests Stehle. "You could let your parent know the aide is someone very helpful who can take your father on walks, fix him meals, and help him throughout the day. You don't need to explain every aspect of care the aide will provide before the relationship has been formed. This may make your loved one feel less threatened." Take it Slow Weave a new aide in gradually, says Kane. Start with short home visits or meet for coffee, then bring the aide along to the doctor's a few weeks later. "You leave early on some pretext, letting the aide accompany your parent home." Accept Your Limits As long as seniors are not endangering themselves or others, let them make their own choices, says Cohen. "You can't be at your parent's side all the time. Bad things can happen, and you can't prevent them," she says. "You need to accept limits on what you can accomplish and not feel guilty." It may sound unfeeling, but maybe going a day or two without meals is just the reality check an elder needs to welcome a badly needed helping hand. (

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