Looking after elderly parents can be difficult if they don’t want or feel like it. After all, you love your parents and would do anything for them. They’ve looked after for you for many years, even when you’ve moved out from your family’s home. No matter where you are in the world, your parents will always look out for you, but there comes a time when you’ll need to look after them.
As your parents get older and go into the elderly stage of their lives, it can become apparent that they need support with their everyday lives. While it might be obvious to you, it can take some time for them to realise or accept that they need assistance. Your elderly mum or dad may resist having in-home carers as they don’t want to be waited on. However, if there are signs that they need help, then something must be done.
At Sova Healthcare, we specialise in healthcare services, which cover home care to specialist care. We understand the difficulties of having the conversation with your elderly parents. We’ve put together this article for how to approach your elderly parents when they refuse help that they need.
1. Start Early
It is imperative that you start a conversation with your parent early before any potential health issue makes the topic more difficult to discuss. The talk doesn’t even have to directly mention “carers” or “care at home”, as these words are likely to trigger a reaction that ends the conversation. Ask questions such as “Where do you see yourself as you get older?” or “Have you thought about getting a housekeeper to help around the house?”. These lead-in questions without the mentions of care would help strike a conversation that helps both parties early on. This can also help you understand why they may be refusing to consider support from health care services.
2. Getting Older Is Scary, So Be Understanding
In Donna Cohen’s book, “The Loss of Self: A Family Resource for the Care of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders” she advises that understanding the fear of getting old is better than insisting they get help for themselves. Most elderly people know about the issues that they are potentially suffering from. However, anger could spring from believing their children aren’t capable of understanding their issues emotionally and physically. That connection is vital in having those difficult conversations about considering care options.
3. Stand By Your Parents No Matter What
When you reach a certain age, you are used to being okay on your own because it is what we must do as adults. However, it’s difficult to accept when this situation changes. If the topic is brought up your parent may have an angry reaction. It is a delicate topic to open up a conversation over. If this is the case, you must bear with them, as they have undoubtedly done with you, until they have had time to process the situation.
Help them out where you can and let them enjoy that support from you before tackling domiciliary care or any other type of home care service.
4. Give Your Parents Options
Putting restrictions on your parent’s future will not help stop their refusal of help. Assisted living or in-home care can seem like their freedom is being taken from them. A feeling of having no independence or options to choose from themselves will make them continue to refuse support. By giving your Mum or Dad options, it makes them realise that their opinion is still valued and that they are still an independent person. If you are looking to set up an appointment for them, ask for their preferred date and time. They likely have hobbies and commitments which you do not want to restrict. Explain that their carer is a companion, not someone there to tell them what to do.
5. Create a List of Issues and Priorities
The need for caregiving and assisted living for an individual is a two-way thing, so problems can be experienced by both sides. Reduce potential problems by listing priorities. Will your parent need weekly or monthly appointments at the doctors? Should you hire someone to help around the house? If your parent suffers from dementia, they cannot attend to their household chores any more, so hiring a housekeeper would be beneficial.
6. Take Your Time
You love your parents and you want the best for them, but you can’t rush them into situations that they are not totally comfortable with. If you feel they need to go to a doctor but are worried about taking them, could you ask the doctor to do a home visit? This way, it can feel like a less formal assessment, reducing the risk of scaring your Mum or Dad into refusing to see them.
7. Seek Expert Advice
The signs that a parent needs help may be there for all to see, but it can often take the advice or diagnosis of a medical professional to convince them. Talking to doctors or even social workers can help convince an elderly person of their situation. They could detail the potential problems faced without help from a carer and provide answers to questions your parent might have about possible treatments.
Are There any Legalities I Should be Aware of When Helping Elderly Parents?
This is an area we often get asked about and quite a complicated topic. Often people are confused over whether they are legally responsible for their parents, or what the best course of action is should their parents refuse help, despite desperately needing it.
In short, you are not legally responsible for your parents. There is, however, what many would consider to be a moral obligation. This moral obligation has been outlined by MPs on a number of occasions but is not legally binding.
You should also be aware that in the UK you cannot force someone into care homes unless social services deem them unable to look after themselves. In this case, it is often advisable to arrange home care.
Our expert healthcare team offer health assessments in Birmingham, Leicester, Redbridge, Halifax, Harrogate and Bradford. With our assessment, it can tell your elderly parents if they’re at risk of having a stroke, developing diabetes for other health ailments. We can also provide a health screening in their own home if your mum or dad prefer. The assessment can then inform you on whether healthcare arrangements need to be made.