Trying to Fill the Need When No Help is Wanted!
Just a few months ago it seemed like there were no problems. Life was good and all needs were met. Things were going well with your job or profession and you even enjoyed your work. You were enjoying time with your family and especially enjoyed going to your grandkids baseball and basketball games. Yes, you were very busy, but you still had time to accomplish your work tasks. You even got to do some of the things in your life that you enjoyed!
Then, all of a sudden, your Mom who lived 50 miles from your house started developing minor health problems. You begin going by her house a few times a week after work. Soon you begin to spend every weekend there. One of your sisters lives an equal distance from Mom’s house. Thankfully, she would also stop by a few times during the week plus some on the weekend. At first the visits were just a little more than extra visits.
Now it is clear that unless you and your sister stopped by every week that Mom wouldn’t get the care that she desperately needed. It was fairly obvious that she needed help and you and your sister were being called into service. Of course, you love your Mom but literally do not have the time to be there as much as needed and to adequately meet her ever increasing care needs.
You’ve talked to Mom about the possibility of bringing in some non medical helpers and she said NO! You don’t know the extent of your Mom’s finances but suspect that she can easily afford this outside assistance. Why on Earth would she say No when she clearly needs help – you and your sister are speechless!
More than one bite at the apple…
It may take more than one bite at the apple to get Mom to accept that she needs help. Mom has lived independently all of these years. Agreeing to allow in-home caregivers in her home is a big change. To the adult children, this may seem like a necessary and logical change. An in-home caregiver is the obvious next step required to meet Mom’s care needs.
However, Mom may see this as a permanent change in her daily status quo. If she allows non-medical caregivers to come into the home, she has to accept the fact that she can no longer meet her own needs. She now has to have assistance. This is a big change that can stir up a lot of emotion. The kids might be feeling that Mom is being unreasonable. However, if they think about it from her point of view, they might be able to understand her position a little clearer.
You Need to Find the Middle Ground
When it is clear that Mom does need assistance, the adult children may be able to start with the family assessment. They can look at several specific daily life tasks and notice specifically where Mom needs assistance. She may need assistance with only one or two things. If the kids provide assistance specifically with those areas, it seems a lot more like the kids are just doing a few favors to help Mom. It feels a lot less like that they are “taking over”. This can help Mom feel like she is still living life on her life terms and is not relinquishing total control.
You Need to Be Patient (When Possible)
Unless Mom’s condition has deteriorated to the point where she is a danger to herself or someone else, a little patience on behalf of the adult children may go a long way. I know of a situation where the Mom had lived out in the country on a farm for years. She was used to managing not only her personal business but also performing all necessary farm tasks by herself. As her health declined, she was not able to do everything that she had in the past, therefore her farm began to show signs of deferred maintenance.
When Mom fell and required a few days stay in the hospital, her adult children tried to convince her to move in with them, move into an assisted living facility, or at least move to a condo in a town close to them. Mom adamantly refused to admit that she needs help! Mom went back home and a few months later fell again. This cycle continued until the fourth fall. She finally agreed to sell her farm and move closer to one of her adult children out of state.
Patience Brings Rewards
You might think this was a logical step long-overdue, but just imagine the courage it took for Mom to make that decision. To buy into that decision, she would have to accept the fact that her life had permanently changed. Now she must rely (at least partially) on someone else’s assistance to perform basic daily tasks for the rest of her life. This is a big step.
A decline in physical or cognitive health in the latter stages of life are “normal” and occur in the lives of many seniors. Some seniors accept these unwelcome changes gracefully while others are in denial of these obvious life changes and push back.
It will help a lot if you understand where your declining parent is coming from. Remember to patiently work with them to gracefully accept some of the required changes in their life. Hopefully the changes can be implemented gradually so as to allow them to maintain their independence as long as possible while receiving the care and assistance they need along the way.
Best wishes to you as you work to assist the declining parent in your life.