How To Get Your Aging Parent To Accept Help

I have been practicing as an Aging Life Care Manager for almost 20 years and have been asked this question at least 100 times. I frequently here, “we really see the usefulness and benefit of your service, but how can we convince our parents to let you in”? My response is typically, “Every situation is different, and you really know your parents better than I do, so here is some general advice.”

1.Observe and LISTEN:

  • People are more likely to take advice from those who listen to them. Are you really hearing what your aging parent has to say? Regular conversations can build trust. Your loved one will appreciate the fact that you’ve taken an interest in the things that matter to him/her.
  • Before jumping in with suggestions, take the time to observe your parent. What are they still capable of doing? What do they have trouble with? How do they think of themselves? Knowing these strengths and weaknesses and which of these are tied to their identity can help you figure out an approach to take in suggesting services from an Aging Life Care Manager.  An Aging Life Care Manager will analyze this on their assessment, develop a customized plan of care that maximize the strengths of the person and offer suggestions to address the trouble areas that match each individual person. 
  • Have the person who is the best communicator, listener and most influential to have this discussion with your parent. Most families will know who this person is. This could be the oldest male in the family, the youngest daughter, a doctor, an attorney, a friend who has used our service – every family is different but tapping the most influential person is a good source to move forward.

2. Choose your words carefully:

  • Appeal to the values that matter most to your parent and stress your desire to enable them to maintain and enjoy what independence they still have. Aging Life Care Managers increase the older persons autonomy. We always have the best interest of the client in mind with all our suggestions/recommendations.
  • Avoid emphasizing your loved one’s weaknesses and forbidding them from doing things. Each person places different value on qualities like respect, self-reliance and a sense of purpose
  • The refusal of the aging parent to accept help is typically based in fear: no one want to lose control over one’s life. Hiring an Aging Life Care Manager could be perceived as the beginning of loss of control; it actually increases the amount of autonomy a parent has.
  • Just about every adult child tries to use logical means to get an aging parent to change; it just doesn’t work unless there is a crisis. Don’t wait for a crisis!
  • Consider the approach of asking the parent to do this for you. You don’t have the time, cannot afford to be away from work, live too far away, have children to care for, etc. Most parents do not want to burden their children.
  • Your best course of action might be to tell your parent how their refusal is affecting you personally. Let them know how it would make you feel if she/he accepted the service of an Aging Life Care Manager. Would it give you peace of mind? Would you be more relaxed during the workday? Why not express these feelings?

Older adults with dementia are another story, though. Since they are often incapable of acknowledging the true extent of their cognitive and physical decline.  It often falls to the Medical Power of attorney to make this decision, to ensuring their health, safety and quality of life.

In Summary:

Be sensitive to the fears and insecurities that are causing your parent’s resistance. Once you understand your parent’s motivations, you can frame your suggestion for an Aging Life Care Manager service in a way that’s more likely to lead to productive discussion. Losing a bit of independence by getting help from others doesn’t have to equate with becoming a devalued and marginalized member of society. Everybody ages; you can’t stop that. But what Aging :Life Care Managers can and adult children can do is respond to someone’s limitations in a way that preserves dignity and value

You can be confident that once we are in the door, meet with them and they sense our sincerity, expertise and customized approach helping them to become more independent, this becomes the least of your worries.

You can contact Holistic Aging @ 412-486-6677 or info@holisticaging.com for Aging Life Care Management services in and around Pittsburgh, PA