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How to Talk To Elderly Parents About Accepting Help

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As our parents age, it’s natural they may need extra help getting through their day-to-day lives. However, talking about this need for help can be a sensitive topic. Many older adults don’t want to be seen as a burden to their children and avoid accepting assistance.

As an adult child, it can be challenging to approach this topic without appearing overbearing or disrespectful. Every parent is different—while some may be receptive, others may become combative. The key to starting a conversation about your aging parent accepting help is to lead with empathy, use examples to explain your thoughts, research beforehand, and involve family members and professionals.

Bring your loved one on a tour of assisted living communities and let them actively participate in their next level of care.

Signs Your Parent Needs Help

There are signs you can look for to determine if your loved one is struggling.

Physical Changes

Aging can cause physical changes that interfere with your parent’s ability to perform their activities of daily living (ADL), like bathing, dressing, cooking, and cleaning. Watch to see if they have trouble walking or with mobility, require support to walk upstairs, or avoid stairs in their home altogether. This can be a sign they need help.

Changes in Mental State

Forgetting small things or struggling to complete tasks is normal on occasion. However, memory issues become a concern when they occur regularly or become dangerous. Memory loss and confusion are signs that your parent may need help. A routine checkup may be required to confirm if they have dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Home Environment

Take a look at your parent’s home environment. Are things becoming cluttered? Is routine cleaning being missed? If you notice your parent is forgetting or avoiding chores like laundry, dishes, or vacuuming, it may be because they can’t keep up with these simple tasks.

Social Withdrawal

Loneliness and isolation among seniors are widespread problems that can lead to physical and mental health problems. A parent who once enjoyed going out with friends or participating in community events may become isolated and exhibit no interest in their previous hobbies. This withdrawal from social activities is a red flag that they need help but can’t (or won’t) ask for it.

Talking to Your Older Parents About Extra Help

Starting a dialogue with your parent can be difficult, especially if this is the first time you’ve broached the topic. But there are methods to help your loved one feel supported during this difficult discussion.

Start the Conversation with Empathy & Compassion

While your concerns about safety are important and valid, don’t begin the conversation by bulldozing your parent with your thoughts. Acknowledge your parent’s feelings by mentioning that you understand how tough it can be for them to accept help.

Keep the conversation respectful, and start by asking open-ended questions that will allow your parent to share their thoughts and feelings. For instance, ask them how they’re coping with the demands of their daily life and whether they would consider accepting help if you offered it.

Don’t expect a resolution in one conversation. They need time to reflect on what you’ve said.

Consider Using Real-Life Examples

One way of helping your parents see the real value of assistance is by using real-life examples that support your point. You can share stories of other elderly parents who have accepted and benefitted from the help of their adult children. When you show your parents the benefits of assistance, they may become more open to accepting help.

Research Helpful Resources in Your Area

Sometimes, elderly parents reject help because they don’t know about the available resources. By researching your area, you can show your parents that accepting help isn’t burdensome and that there are resources available that will ease their day-to-day lives.

For instance, look up community centers in your area where seniors can get out and socialize or transportation services that offer to drive seniors to where they need to go.

Involve Other Family Members

Getting other family members involved in the conversation can provide more emotional support for everyone involved. Getting everyone on the same page and working together to support your aging parent is crucial. Reach out to siblings or other extended family members to discuss your parent’s situation so everyone knows what’s going on and how they can help. 

It’s not just about supporting your loved one or having more voices for an argument; it’s also about sharing the responsibility of this significant decision.

Consider Working with Professionals

In some cases, it’s more challenging to convince older parents to accept help from their adult children. Professional caregivers, social workers, or counselors can provide insights and support. A professional can help you open communication, offer suggestions, and provide valuable insights to bridge the gap.

A group of seniors sitting around a table, eating and enjoying afternoon tea while smiling and chatting with each other

Find Support at The Legacy at Long Meadow

While it’s not an easy conversation, talking about accepting help is critical as your parents age. Start the process of moving to assisted living early and let your loved one be an active participant in your research. 

Schedule a tour of The Legacy at Long Meadow to explore our community, discover the amenities, and meet your loved one’s future neighbors.

Written by LifeWell

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