February 22nd, 2017

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When you fell off your bike and scraped your knee, your mom hugged you, wiped away your tears and applied a magical Band-Aid. When you were an all-knowing 16-year-old, your dad patiently taught you to drive, spending hours in the car watching you resist everything he was trying to tell you.

Now, these same two wonderful people — your parents — are getting older, and it is time for you to step up to the caregiving plate.

Woman taking care of her disabled grandmother

While you are happy to care for your mom and dad as much as you can, your folks might have other ideas. Whether they don’t want to worry you or are scared to become a burden as they age, some elderly parents are really resistant to the idea of their child assisting them. To help overcome their objections, try out these tips:

Start Communication Early

The time to start talking with your aging parents about caregiving is not after your mom has taken a fall or when your normally neat-freak dad is letting basic housekeeping slip. If you can, have a laid-back conversation with them before a crisis takes place. Watch for opportunities in day-to-day conversation to mention getting some help — “Hey Dad, if you had a housekeeper come in once or twice a month you’d have even more time to play golf!” or “Mom, I saw an interesting checklist about how to keep a house safe from falls — can we go through your house and make sure it’s safe?”

Get Them an Innovative Activity Tracker

Your parents might balk at getting a wearable alert system. Sympathize with their feelings and instead offer them a less conspicuous activity tracker. The Lively Wearable is a fun-to-use fitness tracker for seniors. It’ll keep track of their steps and heart rate, and -when worn properly- also works as an alert system if mom or dad take a fall and need help. This will not only make them more confident to stay independent, but it will also give you peace of mind as you’ll be notified in the case of an accident.

Be Careful How You Word Things

Remember when your room was a mess and your mom told you to clean it up or you would be grounded until you were 50? You probably didn’t feel very motivated to spend your precious teenage weekend time straightening up your stuff. As Aging Care notes, choose your words carefully when talking to your parents about caregiving. Instead of saying “I don’t think you are a safe driver anymore so I’m taking you to your dentist appointment,” try something like “I have a free morning. How about I drive you to your appointment and then we can go have lunch afterward?” Keeping your suggestions positive will go a long way in getting your parents to accept help.

Channel Your Inner Detective

If your mom or dad says “I don’t need help, and that’s that,” spend some time asking gentle yet pointed questions as to why your parents are so reluctant to accept assistance. Listen to your folks and validate what they are feeling. See if your dad will say he is worried about spending all of his hard-earned savings on hiring a caregiver, or your mom is nervous about having a stranger come into the house to clean. Once you know their specific fears and concerns, it might be easier to help set their minds at ease and be more open to getting help.

Dealing with aging parents is a delicate situation. Be patient, listen closely to what they’re saying and approach with suggestions rather than requirements. These traits will make them more receptive to help.

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