Just as the transition of the parent-child relationship to adult-adult relationship can be challenging, so can the transition from independent adult to an elderly adult who is becoming increasingly dependent on their children. When you begin to notice changes in behavior, such as a parent forgetting to take their medication or being less aware of their surroundings while driving, it can be tempting to make all of your parents’ decisions for them.However, taking all of their independence and making yourself entirely responsible for them is not the answer. The key is to determine what decisions and responsibilities your parents can still handle on their own, and intervene when necessary.
If you begin to notice signs of your parents neglecting their own care, such as bathing less regularly than usual or refusing to see a doctor about unusual physical symptoms, the first step is to have an open discussion. It is important to remember not to speak to your parents as if they are children. Expressing your concerns and offering your help, while maintaining a language of mutual respect will yield the best results. When your help in making financial, healthcare, and other decisions is seen as an offer, rather than a commanding interference, it may be easier for your parents to accept.
When expressing your concerns, it is often helpful to point out specific instances, such as forgetting to take a certain medication and the alarming results. When you involve your parents in making decisions about how to solve these issues, it will become clear that you are not trying to rescind all of their control. Begin by asking what they think would help. Listen to their ideas and work together to come up with a solution. It is important to be aware of your parents’ possible embarrassment, shame, or feelings of impotence when it becomes necessary for you to make more decisions for them. Using self-depreciation and humor can often help to foster a positive outlook on the situation, without emphasizing your parents’ loss of independence.
If you notice more severe signs of cognitive decline that may indicate forms of dementia, you should consult a doctor to assess your parents’ mental capacities. Your doctor will conduct tests to determine whether or not the loss of cognitive function will make independent decision-making dangerous. A conversation with a qualified professional about the risks of making important decisions without help may help your parents be more receptive to your assistance.
The most important step in helping your aging parents accept your help is to recognize and encourage their independent abilities. If they can still live safely in a personal residence, you should take the steps to maintain this ability for as long as possible. Emphasizing the aspects of their life that your parents can still effectively control on their own, rather than the areas that require your help, will allow them to feel safely self-reliant. Should your parent require more care, the specialists at Senior Care Centers are here to help.