Convincing an Elderly Parent to Accept In-Home Care Assistance

When an older person begins to show signs of needing assistance in the home, it is usually an adult son or daughter who first recognizes the need. However, quite often it turns out that the parent does not feel that he or she needs help in the first place. Sometimes, no amount of reasoning or persuasion can overcome the disagreement.

What to do?

The reason why this issue can become a point of discussion across generations has to do in part with a difference in perspectives. A son or daughter may notice that a parent shows unsteadiness in walking, lack of medication, or shows a decrease in self-care ability or household chores. This naturally leads to concerns about safety and well-being. Getting help in the home is an obvious solution that can allow a parent to live comfortably and safely.

The parent’s perspective, of course, can be very different. Their focus may be on privacy and independence. Accepting the need for a helper or companion may seem like giving up dignity and control. Cost may also be a concern. Reconciling these different perspectives can be difficult, if not impossible. Here are some suggestions from our experience that may be helpful to children of aging parents:

Emphasize their needs, not theirs

A parent may accept a little more home care services if you emphasize that it is for their benefit. Point out that you would feel more comfortable knowing that someone is helping with meals, laundry, and household chores. Put it in the form of a favor to you. Explain that it would give you peace of mind to address your own personal or work priorities.

Accept that safety does not trump everything else

An important lesson we have learned over the years is that commitment is almost always necessary when it comes to safety. An older person with a functional disability and/or chronic illness is at greater risk for accidents, injuries, and adverse events. Making safety the number one issue seems to be the most compassionate and ethical thing to do. But if it is done at the expense of dignity and quality of life, it may not be.

It is better to accommodate parents’ values and preferences while practicing the art of the possible. If your parent refuses your requests to receive home care or move to assisted living, establish more limited home care visits and set up an emergency alert system.

If imbalance is a problem, make sure that a medical evaluation is done and then learn about the many ways a live in care assistance can be modified to protect against falls (e.g., installing grab bars and rails; using non-slip mats; ensuring good lighting; eliminating tripping hazards and clutter).

If medications errors are a concern, make sure a doctor reviews all prescriptions to keep the regimens as simple as possible, and then at least purchase a medication dispenser. There are even a variety of electronic dispensers that will automatically dial a programmed phone number if doses are skipped.

Don’t ignore the many possible ways technology can allow adult children to monitor the safety of elderly parents. Remote monitoring of vital signs such as blood pressure, tracking movement throughout the home with motion detectors or cameras, confirmation of medication compliance, all of this and more is possible today.

live in care assistance

Much can be done to improve the safety of an older person living alone. But at the end of the day, no combination of strategies will eliminate all risk. The challenge is to maximize safety without ignoring important values such as self-esteem, dignity, and reasonable independence.

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