You want to help your parents live safely in their home. You also know it may be time for them to downsize to a smaller home or retirement residence. How can you help when your aging parents refuse your help?
1. Acknowledge how they feel. This may be a difficult time for them, as they now have to come to terms that perhaps they do need some assistance. However, coming to that decision and taking action upon it is something many refuse to do until there is a crisis.
2. Be open and honest with them by sharing what you have been feeling. Share your concerns without judgment or harsh statements. Be loving and respectful. Use the words, “I love you and respect you and I want to offer some help.
3. Ask them about their concerns, their fears and what they worry about. They know they are aging. They know that they cannot do the things that they used to be able to do and enjoy. This could be very frustrating and frightening for them. Listen and validate what they tell you.
NOTE: Avoid using the word “BUT” when you are listening to their concerns. The word negates everything that someone has said beforehand. Instead, use “AND” to validate what they have said and to add your thoughts to theirs. For example, you could say, “I hear you and….”, “I’m happy you are sharing and…..”
4. Be a resource to them and offer solutions. There is no point coming into the conversation worried or concerned without knowing what type of solutions you can offer. Ultimately, they have control of their lives (unless they are in imminent danger and that is an entirely different conversation) and you are simply there to offer a variety of options that can help make their lives easier and safer.
5. Seek outside help. A family doctor, a trusted friend, or a close relative may be just the right person from whom they can hear that it may be time to seek some outside support. Share your concerns with people that you mutually trust and ask them if they would be willing to be part of our parents’ support team
Remember that you are the child in their eyes and that they are the parents. They have been living their lives independently up until this point and they will want to continue to do so for as long as they can.
Do what you can, that of which is within your control, and let go of the guilt that you are forecasting you will have should something happen. You cannot control the future. You can only control what is within your control. Be at peace knowing that you are sharing your love and support by offering solutions and options so that they can continue to live happily, healthily and safely for the rest of their lives.
Need help? Reach out to us. You do not have to do it alone.