By Denise S. Pott, LCSW • Assistance Home Care
As our parents age, they may need assistance to care for themselves and to make good decisions. The challenge, it seems, is that we are faced with parenting our parents. Although roles may have shifted, that is not really the case. They are still the parents and we are still their children. Understanding your parent’s wishes along with their fears, such as a decline in quality of life, while respecting their independence is key for a healthy relationship. How can we continue to respect and honor our parent’s wishes when they choose to remain at home?
The thing that we must address is determining to what extent are they capable of making decisions and how much we need to be involved. Most elderly parents are reluctant to give up their independence and relinquish control to their adult children, but in some cases parents, particularly the recently widowed who have not been decision makers in the past, may be grateful for assistance from the outset.
Below are some guidelines that you may find helpful in getting parents to accept your help.
• Always include your parent in decision making as much as possible. Consider their cognitive functioning, physical conditions, financial status, and practical issues. The more involved aging parents are, the better. Try to understand what is important to them and reassure them you are there for them. Taking control of decision making for your parents doesn’t mean they don’t have an opinion that should not be considered. Encourage your parents to make decisions and respect that it is their life.
• Approach your parents openly and honestly about your concerns. Offer your help in decision making rather than insisting you take control. It may be easier for your parent to be receptive to your help in the long run. Share your observations to plant the seed for future conversations. Offer assistance with decisions about finances, healthcare and daily responsibilities. Find ways for your parent to remain independent. If your parent can remain safely at home, try to maintain that as long as possible.
• Decide together what responsibilities and decisions your parent can still control. For example, if eyesight affects their ability to pay bills, offer to assume that responsibility.
Remember that this is a process. Several conversations may need to take place over time. Once the conversation has begun, parents often wish they had started it sooner. Be patient and give them time to think about their options. Stress what the benefits are to them and that they will have a choice in the decisions that need to be made.
Honoring our aging parents is about maintaining their identity and dignity. Try to understand the situation from their perspective. Getting outside assistance from professionals may be one way to ensure your relationship is protected with your aging parent while honoring their wishes.
When your parents need help in the home, Assistance Home Care may be just what you are looking for. We provide excellent caregivers, based on your schedule and preferences, to help you to enjoy more of your time together!
If you know an older adult who would benefit from companionship or assistance in the home, Assistance Home Care can help.
For More Information visit our website at www.assistanceathome.com
Or call at one of our area offices:
St. Louis 314-631-1989
St. Charles 636-724-4357
West County 636-200-2909