By Jennifer Gibbons, LCSW, Adult & Senior Care Advisor
Have you ever heard that you shouldn’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes? This old adage now pops up on television in various shows where someone spends a few days doing just that. With elders, sometimes it helps to understand their perspective by taking that figurative walk in their shoes. Taking the time to think through their feelings before engaging in tough discussions will often result in a better outcome.
Over the years I’ve heard from frustrated family members who tried to convince their elderly loved ones either to do something or stop doing something. Taking away the car keys, moving into a senior residence, or re-engaging in life and accepting assistance from paid caregivers are just a few of the frequent battlegrounds. What seems to be a clear safety issue is often viewed differently by your parents. If approached in a demanding way, your parents’ need for autonomy and independence can quickly lead to a refusal to even engage in conversation.
We often approach conversations with elders as a checklist to be completed, leading with safety as the bottom line. But longer, meaningful conversations will help you to understand how your parent is feeling and what they would like to do. Even if these conversations evolve into reminiscing about times when they could do more, it is valuable to listen. When your parents feel as if you’ve heard their concerns and wishes, you can reflect on these when transitioning to discuss your own concerns.
Expect that a series of conversations may need to take place before your parents understand your point of view. Often our parents desire a certain quality of life, even if that puts them in harm’s way. This is difficult to resolve and requires a calm and thoughtful approach. Care Advisors at Care.com will help you approach your unique caregiving situation with ideas, strategies, and resources.
Call Care.com for personalized guidance and assistance.
Care.com’s Adult and Senior Care Advisers are experienced, masters-level social workers.
Call us today at (855) 781-1303 and we’ll be happy to help with your senior care challenges.