As our parents age and become more dependent upon their children or the social safety net, there is a natural tendency for their children, as their caregivers, to make more and more decisions on their behalf.
And while this may seem natural, it also can cause a lot of problems from a self-esteem standpoint as well as increasing the sense that our parents are losing their independence.
For that reason, it is important that you as the caregiver, whenever possible, try to include your parents in discussions that affect their lives. Of course, their ability to rationally be involved in the discussion can be affected by things such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia, so everything that I say below should take into account your unique situation.
Why You Want To Include Them
Sense of Empowerment
By including your parents in discussions about their health and their future, you are empowering them so that they feel they have some say in their circumstances Nothing could be worse for an aging parent than for them to feel that they have completely lost their ability to make decisions about their life. So for this reason alone, involving them in care giving discussions can help.
You Treat Them Like They Are An Adult
No one likes to just be told what to do. And when you do that you are in essence treating them the same way that you treat your kids. You tell your kids what to do…and don’t expect any backlip.
The problem is that THEY used to tell you what to do…and now are resenting the reversal in the situation. So by including them in discussions that involve their care and their future you are treating them like an adult.
Video Overview of Caregiver Discussions
When everyone helps to arrive at a decision, there is a sense that everyone is part of an agreed to solution, and this leads to the final, most important point…
They Don’t Resent The Final Decision
This is the ultimate goal, for your loved one to understand and be part of the final decision. It certainly doesn’t always work out that way, but the problem is that merely forcing a decision on them will lead to a huge amount of resentment. As it is, they may resent the final decision anyway even with you including your parents in a conversation, but this is the place for you to start.
But as I just alluded to, you may very well have problems convincing them that the decisions you and your siblings have to make are in their best interest. Here are some of the problems you may encounter…
They Still View Themselves As The Authority Figure
This comes down to the “I changed your diaper” philosophy. Anyone who changed your diaper does not have to listen to you. There are other variations of it, like “After all I have done for you you want to (fill in the blank)”
You may also be dealing with the fact that your parents are unwilling or unable to accept their current position and limitations, or have unrealistic expectations about what they are still capable of doing.
If that is the case, then I have written a companion article, “How To Talk To Your Parents About Caregiving“, which covers the full range of issues that come with that.