When you have a parent whose health just isn't what it used to be, you may become concerned that they will begin to need some level of extra care. While this is often normal as parents age, some may not accept they need added care and deny it whenever the subject comes up. This can be both concerning and frustrating for adult children who recognize the need, but it is important to try to understand their point of view and fears, as this can be a difficult time for them. Responding appropriately to how your aging parent is reacting can help to make this conversation not only smoother, but much more successful. According to Matthew Sarnelli, Executive Director at YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens, offering Independent Living with supportive care, Assisted Living and Memory Care in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, many aging parents fear the need to discuss future care. “The reason for this is often that they are scared of the unknown and losing their independence,” says Matthew. “They’ve lived much of their lives in the same place, caring for themselves, you, and perhaps even their own parents. They’ve worked hard to build the life they have and they don’t want it to go away. They may also not realize the wide range of options that are available when it comes to future care now, or hold on to an old perception of what care used to be. If you listen to your loved one and find ways to see where they are coming from and really discuss these issues, your aging parent may begin to loosen these perceptions and stop denying either their need for future care or at least consider it.”
Top Reasons Your Aging Parent Could Deny Future Care Needs
While many adult children don’t understand why their parent denies the need for future care or refuses to even think about the possibilities right now, understanding why they do so can bring you one step closer to coming to a solution. Consider some of these top reasons for denying care needs.
- They don’t think they need help. Denying they need assistance in the first place is often the reason adult children become upset with their aging parents. If you notice your loved one is having trouble doing everyday activities, needs more assistance than usual or relies on you more than they used to, it could be a sign they need some additional care – even if they don’t think they do.
- You should be able to provide all the care they need. Some aging parents believe their adult children will be able to care for all of their increasing needs as they age. While they may be able to care for some of their parent’s needs, it’s not likely they’ll be able to do it all on their own. It’s important to come up with a plan so you are all on the same page.
- They believe their health will decline if they need more care. Unfortunately, many aging parents believe that if they move to a senior living community their health will decline or they will lose their independence, however, this is far from the case. In fact, they tend to notice better health and a more enriching lifestyle.
- The future worries them. They may deny their need for future care simply because they don’t want to think about the future or what will happen in regards to their health and lifestyle. This is actually fairly common, but ends up leaving adult children to make decisions for their aging parent, giving the child the difficult task of determining what their loved one would have wanted.
How to Respond to an Aging Parent’s Denial
Responding to a loved one’s denial of future care needs is a tricky balancing act. Consider trying some of the following tips from AARP® to ensure an effective and successful conversation.
- Be patient. This is likely a conversation you’ll have more than once, so be sure not to expect too much. They may become agitated and you may need to drop the subject at first and find a better time to discuss future care.
- Try to understand their point of view. It’s likely your parent is concerned, anxious and feels upset when future care needs are brought up. In fact, according to AARP®, they may even feel as though they are burdening you because you are worried about it. Try to put yourself in their shoes to understand why they are acting the way they are.
- Determine what they may need ahead of time. Is your parent still fully independent? Do they need some assistance? If so, with what? Try to determine what services they may need in the future and what their current abilities are. This can help you talk to them about the care they may benefit from or need.
- Talk to others who have been in your shoes. See how they handled the situation or see if a professional would be willing to talk to your loved one if they are absolutely adamant that they don’t need to consider future care. Hearing it from someone other than you can help them see the importance in planning ahead.
- Let them know how worried you are. This doesn’t need to be demanding. According to AARP®, talking to parents about your fear for their health and well-being can make them stop and think about their needs. Try asking where they see themselves in a few years or ask what worries them. They may begin to realize that this decision is solely theirs and if they don’t decide, their children will have to down the line.
For more support or to learn more about how to respond to your aging parent’s denial of future care needs, contact the team at YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens. We would be happy to help you learn techniques that will improve communication between you and your aging parents while creating a plan for future care that you will both be happy with. For more information, contact us today at 561-246-6102.
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