Unfortunately, most families are finally able to convince their senior parent to accept in-home care after a medical event such as a fall or other health related hospitalization. Seniors are often hesitant to accept in-home care as they feel they are quite capable of managing on their own. Hiring a caregiver is seen as a threat to their independence and an invasion of privacy. Below are a few suggestions to help you navigate what can be a challenging process at times.
- Ally with the more independent parent.
When your parents are both living and reside in their own home together, direct your attention to the less needy one. For instance, suggest that their spouse would be the one to benefit from outside assistance even when they both might. By allying yourself with the more independent parent, you may ultimately be able to get them both to accept the help they require. This is important as well as studies have shown that the primary caregiver in the home will often experience additional health issues to do the fact they are truly caring for two people.
- Start with a Caregiver trial period to focus on general support versus personal care
Another approach might be to suggest hiring a caregiver to manage some household chores and NOT actual hands-on care or personal assistance. Often this is seen as less threatening to a loved one’s independence and will serve as a means to “get the caregiver’s foot in the door”. Suggest help with food shopping and traveling to appointments, particularly when driving is no longer an option. If you also let them know it is a trail period they are often more accepting and once they see the value they will almost always continue with the services.
- Make it about “You” versus “Them”
If your parent is living alone or with you, redirect the attention on YOU as the caregiver needing the home care assistance for peace of mind. Emphasize that you would be the one to benefit a lot from such help as many parents place concern for their children’ welfare before their own. If a Caregiver can come in to assist your loved one with bathing and personal care, you would have more time to manage other household responsibilities. As a working caregiver, suggest that by having a companion or assistant stay with your loved one, it would relieve you of worries and concerns while away.
- Use a Health Professional to help with the discussion
Another idea might be to seek the help and advice of a trusted professional who is someone your parents hold in high regard. They might surprise you by their willingness to accept the advice of a long-time family physician, a former or current home health nurse, or a family friend in the medical field. Many home care agencies will have a Nurse on staff for assessments which can help with the discussion as well.
- Don’t take their resistance personally.
In many families, your conflicting role as the child and caregiver hinder your well-meaning attempts at helping your parents. The basis for your actions should not be confused by misguided guilt. Therefore, do not take their rebuttals personally or offensively, but rather focus on a necessary means to an end. As mentioned earlier, it is important to have them get the support they need prior to an event such as a fall or other health related issue due to not getting the support they need as soon as they need it.