PRESS ENTERPRISE 6/24/2017 – Women on Money and Mindset: What if my parents don’t want my help?



Many seniors want to hold on to their independence as long as possible, and they definitely don’t want to have their children run their lives.  Add to that issue the fact that they might be experiencing some physical or mental health decline, and then the situation becomes difficult for them to handle.

Most seniors are very independent.  They have always had control of their lives, especially when it comes to their children.  When they start to have small issues while taking care of themselves and their house, they become very frustrated.  It gets worse if they are diagnosed with beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.  They start to forget appointments, conversations, and directions.  When their kids offer to help, they can become very defensive because they “can take care of themselves.”

Here are some things you might do:

Start with patience, dignity, and respect.  Telling them what you want them to do usually does not make the situation any easier.  Listening to them share their frustrations and then repeating to them what you are hearing them say gives them a chance to transition to getting help.  They may also tell you that you got it all wrong.  If that’s the case, then repeat what you heard back to them differently, or ask them to correct what you said.  Either way, you will get a better feel for what’s frustrating them, and then get them to accept your suggested changes.

For instance, are they telling you that it is difficult for them to drive on the freeways?  Or it’s harder to find places that they are going to now.  Do they complain that the other drivers are crazy?  If so, ask if you can help with the driving.  It will be easier for them to accept the help since they are the ones that mentioned the problems.

Another example is legal documents.  Do they have them, and are they up to date?  You might start off with asking if they have them, have they been updated in the last two years, and, more importantly, do they understand them.  Based on their comments, they might tell you which subject you should approach to help them.

Are your parents eating well?  Do they need someone to come in and cook for them or clean the house?  Maybe they need help moving from a chair to the bed, or going to the bathroom.  Normally they know they need the help but don’t want to have strangers in the house.  Usually this is a transition issue.  You can suggest that they just try it and you’ll be there.  Usually their attitude will change once they get used to the change.

Are your parents social people?  Did they have friends that they would travel with or go to dinner with on a regular basis?  Would it help for them to see other people their age?  Can you suggest places they might go to meet new friends?  Can you take them the first couple of times to make it easier?

Seniors are independent and can be very set in their ways.  If you are patient and treat them with dignity and respect, they will let you help.  Part of the process is listening to what they want and not telling them what you want them to do.

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