As your parents get older, you’ll realise they need more help to do things. But no ageing parent wants to be considered a burden on their children.
It is common for elderly loved ones to hide things they are struggling with from their children and care givers. The first sign of them struggling is often after they have had an accident like a fall at home.
Perhaps you have noticed their home isn’t as clean as it used to be, or meals have been skipped, maybe one of your parents has missed taking their daily medication and doesn’t appear to be acting in their usual manner.
When we spot situations like this it’s difficult to broach the subject without offending or hurting your parents’ feelings. But taking steps now, can prevent accidents or even worse from happening.
Our quick guide to introducing the topic into conversation will help make it easier to discuss.
Look, listen, identify…
Before speaking to your parents, consider how you are going to broach the subject first.
It is a good idea to make some notes, so you can think through what you’re going to say, in an orderly manner.
- Look for signs around the home that things are not how they used to be. Maybe they find it difficult to get out of their chair, or struggle to dress properly
- Listen to what they tell you. Sometimes the clues are in what is being said. Don’t wait until they’ve had an accident like a scald, burn or even a fall
- Identify areas for discussion, start with small, non-contentious subjects first e.g. safety, the risks of slips trips and falls around the home; maintaining their independence, wellbeing or what happens in the case of an emergency
Be respectful without prying, remember the saying ‘Pride comes before a fall.”
But pride, denial or the thought of losing their independence are the most common reasons the elderly won’t seek help.
No one wants to be considered a burden by loved ones, think about how you would feel if your parents were telling you. There is a saying in sales, you have ‘two ears and one mouth’ so its important that you are a good listener. More importantly, let your parents know how much you love and care for them.
If you have siblings or other family members, it’s a good idea for them to be present too, to avoid any misunderstandings of what is being said.
Choosing the right time and place is key
Allow plenty of time, as sometimes these conversations can digress. Everybody has ‘off day’s so plan for this. You want to make sure you have sufficient time to discuss things properly.
Try not to make such a fuss about it, telling your parents you want a to speak with them beforehand will only worry them. Getting started is often the hardest, so start with some light conversation, rather than jumping straight into points that are likely to create confrontation or cause an argument.
If you notice things they find difficult with, is a great starting point. You may want to suggest products you’ve seen advertised or maybe seen somebody using. Draw a comparison, or mention how useful, or how much someone you have seen using the product has benefitted from using it.
Technology is a great way to illustrate mobility products on your laptop or smartphone. Many parents are not web savvy and simply letting them see what kind of products are available on the internet, will make them feel less isolated and out of touch with the modern world. Its surprising how quickly they will take to it.
You could mention, how when talking to a friend, they had been worried about what would happen to their parents in a similar situation and this got you thinking about your own situation.
Accepting that you are getting older and no longer able to do the simplest of tasks is a hard thing to come to terms with for anyone. Be patient and show understanding. Your parents have spent your lifetime telling you what to do and might not be used to you telling them what to do.
Keep the discussion calm and try not to dictate the dos and don’ts. The last thing you want to accomplish is to scare your parents or make them feel they are inadequate. Explain how they have always been there for you and that now in later life you want to be there for them.
And finally, don’t worry, everybody reaches this point with their ageing parents and loved ones. It’s never easy, but once they realise that you want to be there to help maintain their independence, living in their own home and not trying and pack them off to a nursing home they will be more receptive.
“It’s good to talk”