I located this article by Dr. Jim McCabe and wanted to share as this has been a topic of discussion among my clients. Talking to elderly parents is emotional and difficult but with the right strategy, the “talk” can be rewarding and yield positive results.
Helping our aging parents requires special skills and talents. Several hints may be useful in surviving the eldercare challenge.
1. Consider what it is like to be old. Most seniors experience a series of losses during their later years and are trying desperately to stay in control of themselves and their environment. Letting others help feels to them like giving away control of things.
2. “My way” is likely to be the only way (especially for older men) in facing any kind of transition. A plan that appears to be his idea is more appealing to him (and therefore more likely to get implemented) than one that you believe is in his best interest.
3. Pick your battles. Most elderly face multiple challenges as a result of growing older. The most common include mobility limitations, decreased stamina, living alone and memory problems. You will need to prioritize the issues you want to address and hope for small victories.
4. Try not to force changes unless absolutely necessary. If mom’s house is not as clean as it always was, decide if that pose a safety hazard or if it is about the daughter’s own standards for cleanliness. Maybe getting the grab bars installed in the shower is a better issue to address.
5. Keep in mind why you are involved with your parents. Reminding them . . . and yourself that you are trying to help because you care about them can defuse an emotional situation. If you have a good history of communication with your parents, ask them what they imagine would happen in certain situations. For example, if they were struggling at home because of health issues, what would they prefer: to stay at home with help, or would they consider other living situations?
6. Some aging parents may not want to share their financial and legal information with you. If that is the case, at least try to determine if they have a financial advisor or attorney they are working with.
7. If the direct approach does not work suggest a third party. (A geriaric care manager is the perfect choice!)