When older parents resist help or advice, use these tips to cope

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As our parents grow older, it’s natural for them to want to maintain their independence and autonomy. However, this can sometimes result in a resistance to help and advice from their adult children. As much as we want to help our aging parents, this resistance can be a source of frustration and stress. Here are some tips to cope when older parents resist help or advice.

1. Understand their perspective
One of the most important things to keep in mind when dealing with resistant parents is to try and understand their perspective. They may view your attempts to help as an infringement on their independence or believe that they can still handle everything on their own. Taking the time to listen to their concerns and understand their viewpoint can help you tailor your approach to better help them.

2. Empathize with their feelings
Aside from understanding their perspective, it’s important to empathize with your parents and their feelings. The aging process can be difficult and can result in a sense of loss of control and autonomy. Acknowledging your parents’ feelings and fears can help them feel understood and heard, which in turn can make them more open to your help and advice.

3. Reframe the conversation
Another effective tactic when dealing with resistant parents is to reframe the conversation. Instead of telling them what they should or shouldn’t do, try posing open-ended questions that encourage discussion and problem solving. For example, instead of saying “You shouldn’t be driving anymore,” try asking “What could we do to help you maintain your independence and mobility?”

4. Prioritize safety and health
While it’s important to respect your parents’ autonomy, their safety and health should always be a top priority. If you feel that they are putting themselves in danger by not accepting your help or advice, it’s important to have an honest conversation with them and let them know your concerns. Make sure to approach the conversation in a respectful and supportive manner, rather than a confrontational one.

5. Be patient and persistent
Dealing with resistant parents can be challenging and frustrating. However, it’s important to remain patient and persistent in your attempts to help. Remember that change takes time and that your parents may need time to process the changes that are happening in their lives. Additionally, it may take multiple conversations and approaches before you find something that works for both you and your parents.

6. Get outside help
If you find that your attempts to help your parents are consistently met with resistance, it may be time to consider getting outside help. This could include hiring a caregiver, enlisting the help of a social worker or geriatric care manager, or involving other family members in the conversation. Remember, you don’t have to handle everything on your own.

7. Take care of yourself
Finally, it’s important to take care of yourself when dealing with resistant parents. Caregiving can be an emotionally and physically draining experience, and it’s important to prioritize your own self-care. This may include setting boundaries, reaching out to friends or support groups, or seeking professional help if needed.

In conclusion, dealing with resistant parents can be a difficult and stressful experience. However, by understanding their perspective, empathizing with their feelings, and prioritizing their safety and health, you can help make the process smoother and more effective. Remember to be patient, persistent, and to take care of yourself along the way.