One of the biggest worries that elderly people have as they age is losing their independence. When it becomes obvious that they need help with tasks around house and with self-care that they’ve managed to do on their own for decades, it can be frustrating and frightening. Often, this is the reason behind why elderly parents won’t listen to advice from their adult children.
Worrying about their parent’s safety and health is usually what drives adult children to push their parents into conversations about getting help and moving somewhere more appropriate. They also worry about having to balance elderly care with their own families and responsibilities at work. Add to that the role reversals and age-old power struggles between parents and children and it’s no wonder that many seniors won’t listen to their family members.
Here are 5 things that family caregivers can do when it’s important to break through the barriers set up by elderly parents and communicate with each other.
1. Choose the Right Time
When bringing up big topics, family caregivers should pick a time and place when both parties are relaxed and comfortable. Trying to have an important conversation when someone is stressed, anxious or depressed will not go anywhere.
2. Stay Calm and Be Sensitive
Family caregivers should always approach a big conversation calmly and avoid nagging and arguing. They should use love and logic to present their issues and concerns and avoid being critical. Neither side should ever give ultimatums and avoid saying things they might regret. Using “I” statements help convey their point of view is often more acceptable and doesn’t lead to seniors getting as defensive.
3. Ask Questions and Try to Understand
Instead of getting frustrated with rejection, adult children should try to look at what’s behind the stubbornness. Perhaps the senior is afraid that they will be put into a home, or they worry about a stranger coming in to take care of them. Asking thoughtful questions and trying to understand their point of view can help caregivers find the best approach to a solution.
4. Get Support From Others
Elderly parents may have a hard time taking in advice from an adult child but they may give some serious thought to a message coming a doctor, therapist, clergy member, family friend or other trusted person. However, the senior should not feel that they are being piled on. Instead, the message should be one of love and concern.
5. Stay Persistent
If one conversation doesn’t go well, family caregivers should wait for another opportunity. Most major life decisions and issues regarding health and wellness won’t be decided in just one conversation. Elderly parents may not change their mind for a while, if ever. Until the day comes that they can’t, seniors have the right to make their own decisions. Sometimes it just takes time before they come around and listen to what their adult children have to say.
When adult children and family caregivers focus on positive ways to communicate, then over time their elderly parents will understand that they are respected and loved. It’s then that they may just start to listen.