Getting Your Aging Parents to Cooperate

Getting Your Aging Parents to CooperateOne of the challenges children of aging parents face is getting them to cooperate with changes that are for their own good.

It is not easy for them. The change often means more restrictions, less independence, a diminution in self esteem, a reminder that they are losing their capacity. Of course they feel resistant. Aging can often be one long unhappy slide into disability and dependency.

Here are some tips that might help in discussing your plan for them.

  1. Explain why an action is needed in terms of the consequences. What might happen if nothing is done?
  2. Provide examples of what might happen — from people they know, from articles, stories in books, magazines, or films.
  3. Explain the consequence in term of the parent’s interest. e.g. What if mom were to fall and really hurt herself? You are getting so exhausted doing all this yourself. It’s affecting your health.
  4. If there is a good relationship, mention how not doing anything affects you. e.g. I’m worried about you. I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. I want you to be around a long time, to be there for your grandchildren and me.
  5. Always give choices. People feel better about taking an action when they make the choice.
  6. See the situation from their point of view. Imagine what it would be like to have a stranger coming into your private space, commenting on how you do things, reorganizing the kitchen, making demand, bossing you around! Wouldn’t it feel like being demoted to a child again, a reminder that you can’t handle it any more? When you come from a place of compassion and understanding there is likely to be less resistance. e.g. Look, I know this is hard. . . I can imagine how you might feel . . .

When my mother was taking care of my father who had Alzheimer’s, she insisted on doing everything herself. She was unwilling to let the home health aid we had hired do anything to help her with my father. He would be bathed, dressed and fed long before the aid ever arrived. Sometimes getting him ready before the aid arrived put a big strain on her. Was it embarrassment for his dementia? An issue of privacy? Rugged individualism?

Later, when my mom was on hospice, a social worker paid a visit. My mom entertained the social worker with tea and stories of her life. When the social worker called to visit her again, my mom said no because she didn’t have the energy. She didn’t understand that the social worker was there to help her and entertainment was not required. For her, a stranger was a guest.

  1. Ask your parents what is worrying them. Is it the extra cost? Having to adjust to the change? Not believing it is really necessary? Privacy? A sense of responsibility?
  2. Address each concern with understanding. “I can see how you might feel, that way.”
  3. Find out if there is anything that might be done to make it easier. e.g. Talking to someone who has already taken the action you are recommending. Observing how it works in action in someone’s living space.
  4. Sometimes, letting parents express their feelings is all that is needed. By putting it into words they can see things more clearly.
  5. Practice patience. Occasionally, something bad has to happen before the parent will really get it. Maybe mom has to take a fall before dad understands she is too much for him to deal with.
  6. Do a trial run with no commitment. Just try it out for three days.

My mother could not think of putting my father in a nursing home even though he tended to wander, had bouts of incontinence and was not always easy to handle. You just don’t do that to the love of your life! So we arranged a three-day respite in which dad was temporarily placed in a nursing home. At the end of the three days, my mom realized that she could not handle his coming home. Since he was already in the facility, there was nothing more to do. It was done.

You can find out more about caring for your aging parents in my free webinar, Three Mistakes Even Smart Daughters Make That Keep Them Worried About Their Aging Parents, It can be accessed HERE.

In the webinar I make a very special offer for my new webinar series: Empower Yourself Around Death and Dying. It targets the inner game as well as the practical concerns of caregiving. The offer is only good until next Friday, June 6th. You can also access information about the webinar: HERE

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Grief Transformation Coach Michelle Peticolas, Ph.D. helps people transform their grief with a holistic approach to mind, body and spirit that heals trauma, reframes past attachments and releases limiting beliefs while uncovering a true life purpose and direction. If you’re ready to shift into a whole new way of being with death and loss, a new way of living your life, get Michelle’s complimentary guide, Essentials for Grieving Well at

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