Aging is a natural, albeit difficult process, no matter who you are.
With it comes new challenges, such as memory loss, mental health issues, or a lack of mobility. Many older adults may struggle to accept that with aging comes the need for more help.
Learning how to help your elderly parent accept help can feel impossible at times. Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to make that conversation easier for both yourself and your loved one.
Understand Their Reasoning
Many older adults fear the loss of their autonomy as they age. Aging can be a thief of so much already, the last thing they want to give up is control over their own life.
Approaching a conversation with your parent about moving to an assisted living community can often be aided by the recognition that they are still in charge of their decisions.
Before entering into a conversation like this, think about your parent’s position. Ask yourself questions like:
- Is my parent concerned about losing their independence?
- Are they struggling with depression or anxiety?
- Are they confused or struggling with a memory loss condition?
- What is causing them to fear this change?
Understanding their reasoning behind refusing to move can help you approach the situation with patience and empathy, as well as help your parent feel heard.
Steps You Can Take to Encourage a Change
Unless it’s a matter of life and death, it’s important to avoid forcing a change.
This is especially true for elderly parents who struggle with memory loss conditions like dementia. Forcing your parent to do something they don’t want to do, even if you know it’s for their own benefit, will make the entire process miserable for everyone involved.
Instead, try a few of these techniques to help stimulate conversation and positive change.
Treat Your Parent like an Adult
You may feel like you’ve become the “adult” in your relationship with your parent. This is normal, but it doesn’t do much to help your parent feel supported and respected.
A stubborn adult is not the same as a stubborn child. Your parent should still feel autonomous over their own life. If they don’t, it can lead to mental health issues like depression. You’re much more likely to get a positive response from your loved one if you continually treat them as an adult.
Remember your goal: to help your parent receive the best possible care. This includes ensuring they feel heard and loved.
Clearly Outline the Benefits
When the time feels right, try starting a conversation with them about the benefits of moving to an assisted living community. Whether it’s independent living, memory care, or something in between, use this opportunity to outline the advantages.
You can talk about the opportunity to socialize with new people, the amenities of the community, or the support provided by staff. You could also discuss how an assisted living arrangement can help improve their overall health and how the family will continually visit them.
Sometimes, it can be helpful to outline the risks of not moving to an assisted living community, too. If your parent lives alone, an accident or a fall could be very serious. It’s important that they understand the risks of not going, even if it’s scary.
Ask Them to Take a Tour with You
It’s easy to be afraid of something we don’t know anything about.
When you feel it’s appropriate, ask your parent to take a tour of an assisted living community with you. Emphasize that this trip is not a commitment, but rather a chance to learn about their options.
If your parent can see and experience the community, they may be more willing to consider it as an option.
Pick Your Battles
Nobody likes the feeling that they’re being nagged (even if it’s only in their perception). This is why it’s important to pick your battles. Not every conversation is going to go in your favor.
Decide what’s most important and focus on those things.
For example, you may think that your parent doesn’t necessarily need to update their phone, but they absolutely need assisted living or extra care. Despite the fact that you have a better understanding, and more objective perspective, on their needs, you’ll have to get comfortable losing some battles.
This is okay as long as your parent’s health and wellness continue to be the priority.
Moving into assisted living housing may simply be off the table. If that’s the case, discuss alternatives with your parent.
In-home medical services can be a great alternative for elderly parents who live alone and need support, but aren’t prepared to move out. In-home medical help can also be a great option for people with memory loss conditions, like dementia.
Keeping a parent in their own home as long as possible is the ideal solution if they have a memory loss condition. Your physician can help you make these decisions and make recommendations on in-home care.
Another alternative could be moving your parent in with you or another family member. Regardless, this change will be big for your parent. Try to remain patient and exhaust all options before making any rash decision.
Make Plans for the Future
Including your parent in future plans can help motivate them to get the care they need. Make these plans, talk about them frequently, mark it on their calendar, and share the excitement! These little moments may encourage your parent to consider extra help.
Be Patient & Keep Talking
Most importantly, be patient and keep talking.
Dealing with a stubborn parent can be frustrating. Make sure you take time away to collect yourself and take care of your own needs. Try to be patient. Keep the conversation going. The only way to “fail” is by giving up entirely.
This conversation only gets harder, but it’s never as hard as avoiding the conversation until it’s too late.
Remember your goal and keep moving forward.
If you were wondering what to do when an elderly parent refuses to move, try waiting a few months or even a year and asking again. They may realize over the course of time that they need more help after all.
When It’s Time, We’re Here to Help
When your parent is ready to explore assisted living options, please reach out to our team! We’re happy to help you and your parent prepare for this big change, and answer any questions you or your parent have.