Boy…is this a tough one. And it is something that the children of elderly parents have to think about everyday…how do I talk to your parents about their care giving needs?
After all, you have a lot of issues that you are dealing with…
- Your parents have been the “power” in the relationship since you were born…and not they have lost this power as they are losing their independence.
- Now, you as the caregiver start to come across as the authority figure…and they do not you telling them what to do
- The issues that you are dealing with are not the types of subjects someone would be comfortable talking about in the first place (such as their lack of mobility, incontinence, your parents’ health and your parents finances’)
And as I write this, let me say that these are struggles that I deal with on a daily basis. Dad is ok, but Mom is constantly telling me that she is physically capable of doing things that the staff at the nursing home tells me she cannot do and that would be dangerous for her.
So with this in mind, I want to talk about some of the tips I have picked up for how to speak to your parents about caregiving while covering the main points you will be dealing with, money and their health.
Hear Them Out
The first part is letting them have an honest and open airing of their feelings. Listen to what they have to say, regardless of the subject matter. You are going to hit a massive amount of resistance to any point you are trying to make if your parents feel that you do not care what they think.
So even if they are being completely unreasonable with what they are asking for (and God knows as caregivers we have heard plenty of unreasonable requests) you have to listen to them intently.
Feed It Back
Summarize their point of view in your own words. The key to the psychology of this point is that they fully understand that you understand their point of view.
State Your Feelings On The Subject
Now it’s your turn. As Stephen Covey said in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” you must first seek to understand…THEN to be understood. The key to explaining your point of view is to…
- Do it calmly (even if you have been over the same point 20 times and want to scream)
- Don’t talk down to your loved one, as you would to your child. Making your parents feel like your kids is not the answer
Most of all, let your feelings be known from either a personal safety standpoint (at it relates to transporting or other physical activities) or a financial safety point of view (that you don’t want to be defrauded or taken advantage of). And this can be a very difficult situation for you, because as a caregiver you will hear the gamut of responses.
On more than one occasion my mother has accused me of being happy she is in a nursing home and conspiring with the staff to keep her there, so I definitely feel your pain. I have to listen to this from a woman who cannot perform any of the 6 Activities for Daily Living on her own.
I know that it isn’t “her” talking, it’s her frustration with losing her independence. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to listen to without exploding.
If They Still Don’t Listen…
If you are in my position, this is where you will be…with your parents still insisting that they can do what is now impossible for them. The way I handle this is to closely coordinate with the staff at the nursing home and the psychologist that are working with Mom…and have them explain the situation is as “dispassionate” a way as possible.
That is because these professionals have a respect level with my mother that I don’t have…and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that Mom will listen to them in a way that she is unwilling to listen to me. And I have to say they are a great resource and a great aid to me in my endeavor to keep Mom safe.
What If You Don’t Have That Kind of Help
If you are reading this and do not immediately have access to this type of help, then I would call your local Office of the Aging. They may be able to put you in touch with a counselor who can act on your behalf in this matter and provide an impartial voice to the situation.