Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Parent Doesn’t Want Any Help!

Perhaps you have noticed that Mom or Dad isn’t bathing regularly, or the bills
aren’t being paid, or the house is uncharacteristically messy. Maybe they seem to forget directions from one location to anther, or even worse, they have had a car accident,or re p o rt falling in the home when no one was around to help them. Often, adult children of aging parents notice changes in their loved ones, and when the aging adult is confronted with the facts, they say, “Oh everything is fine, I don’t need any help, don’t worry about me!”

The loss of independence and choice is something none of us want to face. Having our own children tell us what do to or how to live our lives is uncomfortable at best. Many aging adults are also very private about their financial matters, and will not discuss income or assets with adult children. How do you start that conversation with your parents? There is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Below are some tips that might help the process along.

Pick an appropriate time and place. Avoid large family gatherings,holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations. A quiet location, in their home or yours might be more comfortable.

Avoid blaming or accusing. Instead, redirect the conversation by telling your parent how YOU feel. For example, “Mom, I find myself worrying about you a lot these days, and I would like to tell you why I am feeling this way.”

Talk to a geriatric care manager in your area for some good advice on how to approach your parent’s specific needs. That care manager has helped family members have this kind of conversation hundreds of times throughout their career. They are full of helpful hints and tips.

If you decide to seek the services of a geriatric care manager, ask them about their approach when it comes to dealing with difficult clients, or clients who may not perceive a need for services. I often tell adult children that when they approach their parents about setting up an evaluation, they might tell their parents, “I know you don’t want me to worry about you, and I only want the best for you. Having this professional come over and talk to us would really make me feel better. If you would agree to talk with her, we can look at her recommendations together and see if any of them make sense. Is that fair?”

Remember that having a third party, who is not a family member and is completely objective, can help the senior see things from a different point of view. They feel like they are getting some professional advice, as opposed to opinions from their children.

Finally, if the senior is truly not living safely, a geriatric care manager can let the senior know that they need to make some choices about their care or living arrangements NOW, before someone else has to make that decision for them later. Of course, this is done with professionalism, courtesy, compassion, and caring.