Monday, November 26, 2007

How to Help a Resistant Parent

Elderly parents who need help are often the ones who resist it the most. It's all too common that they adamantly insist they can still manage their daily lives on their own. But when you see your parents not eating properly, wearing the same clothes every day, failing to take their medication, or letting the garbage pile up excessively, you know you have to intervene. The key of course is to curb your strong insistence on handling their affairs, and to gradually introduce them to the services they need.

Here are tips on how to get help for a resistant parent:

1. If your situation requires immediate attention, contact a geriatric care manager who has the expertise to help your parent accept assistance. A Geriatric Case Manager offers professional consultation and care management to help you make the right decisions in caring for your parent.

2. The elderly usually respect the advice of their doctors. Consult with your parent's physician and ask the doctor to suggest a plan that includes a home health aide to assist with maintaining the health and safety of your parent so that he or she can continue to remain at home. If your loved one needs care after returning home from the hospital, ask both the discharge planner and the doctor to recommend a home health aide as part of recuperation.

3. Work together with your family to encourage your loved one to accept help. If your parent sees you are united in your concern for his well-being and think a home health aide is a good solution, he or she might be more willing to listen and give it a try.

4. Ask your parent's neighbors to help with small tasks like picking up groceries, watering the lawn, shoveling snow, and taking out the garbage. This will show him or her how much more comfortable and less confusing her life would be with even more help inside her home. Point out how overwhelmed he or she gets doing everyday household chores like laundry, cleaning, and preparing meals.

5. If you have a kind and compassionate neighbor, ask her to stop by with a meal every day and chat with your parent. Once he or she sees he can trust the neighbor, it will be easier for him to open his home to other kinds of help.

6. To make sure that your parent is eating right, suggest having meals delivered by meals-on-wheels programs usually run by senior centers and religious organizations. Your parent might be more amenable to meals provided this way, geared to his diet and liking.

7. Usually the elderly are conscious about spending their money and will accept services that cost very little or that are free. Groceries and pharmacies offer free delivery, health clinics, hospitals, and public health departments offer free health screenings and shots, and dentists offer services for the homebound. Learn what is available to your mother in her community so that she will learn to take advantage of and accept all types of help.

8. Don't be afraid to consult with others who also have aging parents resisting help. The ideas that work for them may be valuable to you too.