Families across the country face this issue every day. Sometimes in-home care need is subtle and other times far more obvious, and often subject to disagreement between parents and adult children. According to Donna Cohen, Ph.D. who is a clinical psychologist and writer of “The Loss of Self: A Family Resource for the Care of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders” said,
“This is one of the most common and difficult caregiving challenges that adult kids face. Many older people see themselves as proud survivors. They think ‘I’ve been through good times and bad, so I’ll be fine on my own.’ Plus, they don’t believe their children understand the physical and emotional toll of age-related declines.”
When to talk about about In-home Care
Conversations about senior home care or in-home care are prompted by scenarios like the following,
- Mom refuses in-home care help declaring that you can take care of her.
- Your father is frail, but will not stop driving as he likes his independence
- Your mother-in-law insists that she doesn’t need any help although she is unkempt and wearing dirty clothes.
As the caregiver, it is not uncommon to feel absolute anger, guilt, frustration and helplessness. But, understand where your loved one is coming from. Parents of adult children see themselves as survivors having made it through both good and bad times who see no reason why they cannot continue on their own.
Make no mistake that your elderly parent, now facing early memory disruption is aware of the change in themselves. They don’t completely understand the changes taking place and fear the unknown. Arguing is useless, and doing it repetitively is proof of Einstein’s adage,
“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is insanity.”
So, don’t argue – instead calmly reassuring them helps them cope with what are terrifying functional losses. Following are some tips to help you persuade them of their need.
- Choose a time and place that is good for this conversation. Good times are not holidays or family celebrations. Instead take your mom or dad out for breakfast or somewhere without distractions and is a neutral place.
- Use questions to direct the conversation instead of telling them what to do. Instead of saying if you fall you might die, ask, what would you do if you fell? This technique leads to self-discovery and self-awareness of the aging process.
- Be aware of your options before beginning the talk. Knowing what is available for your loved one in the area and prepare yourself to make specific recommendations. Hearing specifics from you is reassuring and when you offer them instead of demand them, fear is cut.
- Tell them the benefits of in-home care. Steering the conversation to benefits remove most threats to older people. Folks who have cleaning help or even something as small as having groceries delivered have more time to do other things and will be able to visit with you instead of watching you clean their home.
- Most families have a patriarch or matriarch who is the family authority figure. This is a person whom everyone in the family respects their judgment – sometimes it might be a good idea to enlist their help in discussing in-home health services with your mother or father.
Unless your parent has severe dementia or personal safety issues there is little an adult child can do to have them get home assistance. They are, after all, grown-ups.