If you’re struggling with aging parents who refuse help, you’re far from alone. According to a recent study conducted by Penn State University, a whopping 77% of adult children believe their parents are stubborn about taking their advice or getting help with daily tasks. Fortunately, the situation isn’t hopeless.
How do you get your aging parents to listen to you?
It’s not uncommon for adult children to make numerous suggestions about improving their parents’ quality of life only to consistently be turned down. Aging care and health professionals recommend the following steps to relieve the resentment and anxiety that can accompany caring for aging parents and loved ones:
- Try to understand the motivation behind their behavior
Aging is a difficult process for virtually everyone. Many older adults are living with dementia or mental health issues including anxiety and depression. Taking time to understand how your parents might be feeling can help you communicate with them better. Realizing that your parents’ autonomy is important to them can be beneficial. As your yourself some key questions about your loved one’s behavior:
Are their actions –
- Due to force of habit?
- To assert independence?
- Due to depression?
- Because they’re confused or have dementia?
What are they mostly afraid of?
Identifying the root cause, or causes, of your parents’ behavior can help you identify the best way to make positive changes.
- Accept the situation
While you might wish you could control your elderly parents for their own good, the reality is you can’t force them to do anything. Your parents are adults with the right to make decisions even poor ones. Accepting this fact as hard as it is at times can help lower your stress and even improve your relationship with your mother and/or father.
- Pick and choose your battles
People don’t respond well to nagging, real or perceived. In the long run, it might help your case to stop insisting your parents update their phones, join a fitness class, or complete other beneficial, but non-essential tasks. Instead, decide what issues are the most important and focus on them at least initially. Matters involving your parents’ safety, for instance, should take top priority. But remember, they’re much more likely to take your concerns seriously if you don’t bombard them with several at once, no matter how valid they may be.
- Treat your aging parents like adults
While it may feel as if you and your parents have switched roles at times, they’re still your parents, and want to be treated with respect. Dealing with a stubborn parent is not the same as dealing with a stubborn child. Older people should be autonomous. When it comes to dealing with aging parents, remember this: above all, the goal is to help your parents receive the best care possible. Avoid infantilizing your parents! You’re much more likely to get positive results by treating your aging parents like the adults they are. This goes for simple tasks, such as helping your parents remember to take their medications, and harder tasks, like helping them get treatment for diabetes.
- Ask them to do if for the kids (or grandkids)
If mom isn’t willing to change her behavior for herself, maybe she will for a loved one. Another approach to dealing with aging parents is to be direct about how it affects you. Communicate your worries to your parent and explain how your anxieties will be tempered if he or she follows your advice.
- Find an outlet for your feelings.
If you’re angry or resentful that your elderly parent refuses to move to a safer living situation or take their medication as directed, it’s important to vent but not to your parents. Instead, confide in, or strategize with a friend, sibling, therapist, online support group, or senior living advisor. This is especially important if you are the primary caregiver to your aging parents.
No matter how deeply you care about your mom and dad, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with frustration, fear, and anxiety when constantly dealing with their irrational behavior. Guard against this by caring for yourself and finding activities to help release negative emotions.
- Plan ahead and talk about those plans
Even if your parent has not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, living with any kind of memory loss can be very difficult for seniors to deal with, or even acknowledge. Helping your aging parents remember important dates eases frustration for everyone. Is there a family celebration they want to attend that’s coming up, such as an anniversary, graduation, or wedding? Bring it up. Talk about it frequently. Share in the excite together.
What do you do when an elderly parent refuses needed care?
Ironically, you should listen.
By paying attention to your aging parents’ needs and heeding the advice of health professionals, you can make dealing with aging parents less stressful for everyone even if Mom and Dad don’t always listen to you.