- Kidz Korner
- Meat & Potatoes of Life
- Red Hot Deals
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One question heard over and over goes something like this, “We see our parents struggling with their living situation, and we have tried every way possible to talk with them about it, but they refuse to accept help in their home. What can we do?”
Let’s take a step back and explore the situation from your parents’ perspective.
On a high level, the mention of services brought into the home can make your parent think, “This is the first step to losing my independence. If this happens, what’s next?” Whether they consciously or unconsciously have this thought, they will want to fiercely grab on to the life they know and resist any change.
Your parent may treasure their privacy, so even the mention of bringing a home aide or visiting nurse into their home, may be unsettling.
Your parent may be financially conservative, wanting to be frugal and responsible. They’ve lived through the Great Depression. They see their health care costs rising, and the instability of world economy.
So, with those thoughts in mind, how can we approach the conversation in a more empathetic way?
Begin by listening to your parent. Have a relaxed conversation away from your homes, perhaps in a park or some other peaceful setting. You’ll be amazed at how this can break the cycle of a “stuck” conversation. Ask a big question like, “Mom, what has been the most difficult part of aging for you?” She’ll have to dig deep to answer that, and you’ll learn about her values, wishes and goals. And, you will then be able to find common ground and build trust as you work together in the future, in finding the right option for your parent.
Observe. It is important being a “detached” observer for a day or two. Become like a quiet shadow beside your parent. Envision yourself as a caring friend. Watch how your parent moves, what they struggle with, what makes them happy, how they interact with their friends and the outside world. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed or disturbed by what you see. By all means, do NOT jump into solution-mode. A quote by James Thurber, “Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” This is what we need to do as we seek to understand our aging parents.
Reach out to your Area Agency on Aging. Now that you have listened and observed, you will need to reach out and learn about options and resources. We here at Ivory House Health Services maintain a comprehensive listing of community resources, and we also have a geriatric care manager on staff. Simply give us a call @ 410-823-3153 and explain your parent’s need(s) and ask for assistance.
Reach out to a geriatric care manager. So, you’ve tried the listening and the observing. And, you reached out to your Area Agency on Aging and gathered resources and options. But, your parent will still not consider accepting help. Then it is time to have a professional step in and assist. Our company specializes in Aging and we have geriatric care managers here on site. This professional usually has a background as a social worker or nurse.
Such individuals have the experience and sensitivity to meet with your parent in their home and do a holistic assessment (of your parent, their living environment, and their support structure) and then make recommendations. They are trained to know that each elderly person and each family are unique in their needs and wishes. They will be able to frame their recommendations in a way that will help your aging parent understand it is in their best interest.
I hope this part of the newsletter helps you get “unstuck” with your aging parents. Step back, reflect on your parent’s values and wishes, and then reach out for professional help.
We would love to hear your insight and ideas on how to reach out to aging parents who refuse help. What has worked or not worked in your family?
Hazel Kuchsinsky is a Community Reporter and Charter Member with The Village Connector Community News. She the CEO of Ivory House Health Services, a Nursing Care Management Company and Residential Services Agency. Contact Hazel at 410-823-3153 or on the web at www.ivoryhouse.net.