It can be one of life’s great challenges; convincing your parents that they might need a little support with the tasks of daily living. But it doesn’t need to be fraught with difficulty. In fact, with the right approach, it can be an opportunity to talk to your parents about how to maintain their independence for longer.
Difficulty accepting support is not only the realm of those who are ageing. In this great article from Huffpost, the writer talks about the challenges of being a ‘I don’t need help’ person. The world is full of them, and as a society, we value our independence and right to individual self-determination.
If you find yourself in a situation where mum is refusing to give up her driver’s license, or dad is ignoring your pleas to hire someone to help out in the house, here are five things to consider.
1. Invite in a second opinion
For many ageing parents, the role reversal can be difficult to accept as adult children take on the responsibilities of caregivers. It may also be the case that your fiercely independent parents don’t want to burden you with the responsibility for their care. In both instances, taking a step back personally can help to ease the transition. One of the first steps toward finding support for your parents can involve a visit from a member of your local Aged Care Assessment Team. Suggesting that a professional visit to take a look at how your parent might benefit from some support is a good way to remove any personal biases from the equation. At the same time, it will get the ball rolling on the application for government funding.
2. Allow your parents to take control
More likely than not, your parents’ refusal to accept care is not stemming from stubbornness, but is actually rooted in fear. Fear of losing independence, fear of strangers in their home, fear of what accepting support will mean for their future.
But much of the fear can be allayed by allowing your parents to take control of the situation. Mable allows you and your parents to browse the profiles of independent support workers in their local neighbourhood. They can select individual support workers they like the look of to start a conversation with them. Then together, they can decide what services will be provided and when, and what hourly rate will be charged. Plus, it can all be done from the comfort of home on an ipad. It’s the most transparent, flexible model on the market and one that can allow your parents to completely manage their own ongoing support.
3. Start small and start early
For most people, aged care is not something that’s considered until there’s a crisis. For many ageing Australians, that comes as a fall, failing health or the passing of a partner who acts as primary carer.
Wherever possible, introduce the idea of support before that time comes, when your parents are already dealing with a big upheaval. Starting early also enables you to introduce support in small increments. Suggest beginning with someone to help with a little housework, then perhaps assistance to do the shopping or gardening. Once your parent has had someone familiar in their home providing regular support, increasing the hours will be an easier transition.
4. It’s all about positioning
Recently, we wrote about five things that can help people maintain independence for longer. Amongst these, having help at hand is a key factor. Frame the discussion with your parents so that engaging the support of an independent support worker becomes about enabling your parents to live their life independently. Consider introducing support to enable your parents to do things they love, whether that’s a weekly trip to the cinema or a leather-working class (one of our favourite recent requests of the week!) Talk to your parents about how support shouldn’t be considered limiting, but can help them to get out and do more.
5. Accept your limitations
Recently, we posted about the importance of dignity of risk and an individual’s right to make decisions about their life that could expose them to potential harm. As much as we may know that our parents need some support, it cannot be forced on someone we love.
Be patient and give your parents time to let the concept to sink in. Recognise also that many older people may be dealing with mental health challenges as they face big changes in their lifestyle. If the conversation is not going well, if possible, give it a little time and try again at a later date.