Adults can find their elderly parents stubborn when they refuse to receive help, and in turn elderly parents can also perceive their children as annoying instead of supportive. A study published in PubMed reveals that transitions in later life — including widowhood, retirement, and a decline in health — can shift the social workings of older adults. It highlights how they are usually opposed to relocation because they are concerned about the structural change it will bring to their lives. A rift in the relationship between the parent and adult child can form because of this. However, approaching the situation in the right way can help the two parties come to an agreement, and help you provide the support they need without coming off as overbearing.
Assess their needs
Older adults tend to keep feelings and physical ailments to themselves because they are afraid of becoming a burden to others, so it’s important that you’re attuned to their unexpressed needs and fears. Dr. Lee Lindquist, chief of geriatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, confirmed this after studying a handful of older adults on their resistance for help. There’s a high chance that your elderly parents won’t need assistance in all aspects of their life, so look into the following areas and assess which ones are the most crucial: home safety, medical needs, mobility, personal hygiene, meal preparation, and social interaction.
Talk to them when making arrangements
In the same study, most of the older adults answered that in terms of independence, they were willing to be supported so long as they were also helping the one helping them. Preserve your parents’ trust by refraining from making decisions behind their backs and always letting them know that you’re there to listen when they’re ready. After all, their lives will undergo the most changes when lifestyle or location decisions are made. If they are resistant in the beginning, be patient and accept that it will likely take multiple conversations between both parties. If they’re not in immediate danger, start with less intrusive approaches and increase the level of help as you move forward.
Get them insured
Caring for an older adult requires money. While most people have some saved up for retirement, it’s still a good strategy to foresee future costs. Health insurance is perhaps the most important investment, as it ensures that they’re safe in case they need medical assistance. You could go for the Original Medicare option, which covers hospital insurance (Part A) and medical insurance (Part B). Meanwhile, Kelsey Care Advantage explains that you could opt for the Medicare Advantage (Part C), which bundles Part A, B, and a separate drug plan (Part D). Talk to your parents about the various Medicare options that will suit them the most, and explain to them that health insurance is one of the best actions to take.
As highlighted in our ‘Parenting 101: Spending More Time with Your Children’ article, time for communication is very important between parents and their children. Just because the tables have turned and you’re now the one providing the care, doesn’t mean you are no longer required to facilitate communication. For instance, if they agree on moving to a community home, call, text, and visit constantly to see how they’re doing. If they are with a caregiver, involve them in the conversation and ask for regular updates. By providing time and effort to communicate, you can show them that you’re giving them the respect and dignity they deserve.
When parenting your aging parents, remember to make a distinction between safety and everything else, and only be respectfully firm with matters that concern their immediate safety. In the end, always remember that all of these efforts are done to keep your parents comfortable and happy. For more resources on parenting, motherhood, and more, visit us at Melting Mama.