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Dealing With Irrational Elderly Parents – Tips That Work

Tips on Dealing with irrational elderly parents

Do you have stubborn parents? Will they not listen to you because they are the parent? How do you get them to listen? How can you possibly get through to them?

Here are some tips to help you deal with your irrational parents.

Communication is essential!

You must be able to communicate with your parents in order to deal with them effectively. You will need communication to discuss with them the important aspects such as their health, finances, living arrangements and legal documents.

Speak to them like they are adults.

Do NOT undermine them by speaking to them like they are children; this will only make them angry! Remember they are the parents and you are the child, speak and treat them as such. Empower them and involve them in each and every decision.

Be patient and persistent.

You will probably not be able to accomplish everything in one sitting. You may need to bring things up several different times, so please be patient, especially if your loved one has Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. Too much information at one time can make them feel as if they are losing control over the situation, so be patient, but persistent at the same time. Put yourself in their shoes and it may help with your patience.

Don't be judgemental

Don’t be judgmental and criticize them; this will only put them on the defensive. Be sensitive, talk to them in a way as you are concerned for their well-being. Don’t just come out and tell them they can’t care for themselves any longer. This won’t work: You can’t even fix your own meals! This may work better: "I’m just so concerned that you’re not eating well, you look like you are losing weight." Think before you speak.

Spend time with them

Spend as much time with them as you possibly can. They will appreciate the extra time with you especially if they feel like you are not just squeezing them into your busy day.

Ask questions

Ask them plenty of questions. Make sure they feel involved in each and every aspect of the decisions being made concerning their future. Ask open-ended questions, not questions they can answer with a simple yes or no. Of course, don’t press an issue if they start to get frustrated. Take a break and address the issue later or another day.

Stay Calm

No matter what, stay calm. They know things are changing and are more than likely scared, speak to them calmly and with love and it will help ease their minds that the changes that are coming will be okay.

Take care of yourself

Find help for YOU! Staying calm and patient will not be easy to maintain; find some outside support for yourself. You may find an online group, have the time to see a counselor, or perhaps discover Yoga, but find something that works for you and your time schedule.

Timing is everything! You will not resolve anything if everyone is feeling stressed or experiencing anxiety! Make sure you and your parents are having a nice, relaxing day. Remember, if you are stressed, they will pick up on it and feel anxious too.

Listen to what they're NOT saying

Listen not only to what they are saying, but to what they are NOT saying. Do they not want to talk about assisted living because of the stigma associated with it? Are they really afraid to go to the doctor because of what he might tell them? Try to delve into what they aren’t saying to find out why they are saying what they are saying.

If you’re still having a difficult time, try to talk to their doctor. See if he can tell you what is going on with them; maybe they don’t want to tell you what is happening. This may be difficult due to the HIPPA laws, but hopefully your parents listed you as a person your doctor can discuss their conditions with.

Enlist the support of friends or other family members.

Other siblings or family members may get them to open or listen if they’re not the ones involved with them on a daily basis. Your parents may not be so inclined to listen to you or other members of the family, but perhaps they will listen to an outsider, such as a close friend or neighbor. They tend to tell outsiders more than they will tell family. Think about it, don’t we all tell our friends/neighbors more than we tell our loved ones?

Focus on the benefits and outline the consequences

Should it come to assisted living being the answer, point out the benefits of assisted living. “Mom, you won’t have to cook and clean anymore, someone will do your laundry and housekeeping. Dad, no more lawn maintenance, or roof repairs. How great would that be?” If they are still determined to stay in their home, point out the consequences, “mom, what if dad isn't around and you fall, who is going to help you? Dad, what if you get into a car accident? I’m worried about you both and want to make sure you are being cared for 24/7.”

Don’t count on them changing

Your parents are your parents, they are grown adults and there may be nothing you can do to change their minds. Accept their decisions and move on with life the best you can for yourself and for them.

Give yourself grace

Lastly, don’t beat yourself up! You know you have tried everything you can possibly try to get help for your aging parents. There is nothing you can do if they refuse the help. Accept the situation for what it is and know what you can and cannot change.

What to do When Elderly Parents Refuse Help

The number one reason your parents are refusing help is usually fear; fear of the unknown. What is next? Am I losing it? Am I on my way out? If I accept help it means I can’t do anything anymore. These are all legitimate questions in their heads and you need to realize this so you can deal with the situation easier.

Make sure you involve them in the decisions being made about them and their care. This gives them some control over the situation and eases some of the burden off you while allowing them to accept this next chapter in their lives.

Most of the same tips above apply to help when they refuse help. However, if you find it becoming more difficult, or you don’t want to start this in the first place, please reach out to a senior advocate.

We are senior advocates at Assisted Living Made Simple and can walk you and your loved ones through the stages of aging. It’s what we do and we are honored to assist you and your family. Call today for your free consultation.


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