How would you feel if someone you’ve barely met follows you into the bathroom to help? How well would you rest if a strange woman is sitting in your kitchen drinking coffee while you nap? And what if that person is constantly reminding you to take your pills, use less salt, and throw out leftovers?
You can see your parents’ point. Having in-home help invades their privacy and threatens their independence. You wouldn’t welcome those changes either. But sometimes hiring in-home help is the only way your parents can safely continue to live in their home. Here are three tips for smoothing the transition:
1. If your parents are both living together in their own home, suggest that the less needy parent would benefit from outside help, even though they both need it. For example, tell Dad, whose health is worse, “Keeping up with everything is tiring Mom out. Maybe we should get someone in to clean and shop for groceries.” Because he cares about her, Dad is more likely to agree to get her outside help (Obviously, get Mom onboard with the plan first). Once a caregiver is in the door, hopefully your parents will see the value of the service and come to trust the caregiver. Then your parents will be more open to accepting additional assistance as the need arises.
2. If your parent lives alone or with you, your focus can be that the assistance will benefit you. For example, explain to Mom that having an aide assist her in the bathroom will relieve you of worry while you are at work. You won’t have to be concerned that she will fall and lie there for hours. Often a parent will place the child’s welfare ahead of his or her own.
3. If your parent is really resistant to the idea of a caregiver even though it is clearly needed, enlist the help of a trusted professional such as a physician, pastor, or family friend in the medical profession. Emotions can run high in families, and sometimes an objective outsider can break the impasse.
These discussions can be frustrating. Try not to take your parent’s resistance personally. Remember that he or she feels vulnerable and a bit powerless, and may also be mourning the loss of his or her independence. More than likely you would feel exactly the same. Be patient, persistent and stress that you want your parent to remain at home as long as possible, but accepting help is the key. For additional suggestions about making this transition, visit www.agingcare.com/Caregiver-Support/ or www.mnaging.org/advisor/caregiver.htm.