Five Signs that it’s Time to Step Up and Help Your Parents

Your mom and dad have been living in their house for fifty years. Everything seemed to be going along well but lately a few things are creeping up that you’re concerned about. Is it really anything to be worried about or are you just making a mountain out of a molehill?
 
Here are 5 signs that it may be time for you to step up and talk to your parents about your concerns.
  1. You’re worried about their safety. You notice that they leave the stove on or the door unlocked.
  2. You notice that they’re not eating very well. Even when you leave meals for them, they go uneaten. You throw out a lot of food.
  3. You’re worried that they will fall or they have already had a fall. 
  4. You know they are not always taking their medications.
  5. You see warning signs of dementia. Your mom or dad is having trouble with their memory that is affecting their day-to-day life and you’ve noticed other changes in their personality, behavior, or judgement. 
Depending on the exact situation, your mom or dad may be able to stay in their current home with some additional help or they may have to move to an assisted living or long-term care facility.
 
Where do you begin if you have any of these concerns? There may not be an easy answer but having a conversation with your loved one is a good place to start. 
 
Here are 10 tips to help you when it comes time to having a conversation.
  1. Plan for the conversation and be prepared ahead of time. Don’t just bring it up spur of the moment.
  2. Have the conversation at a time of day when both of you are at your best. Make sure you and the person are rested and as relaxed as possible and have the conversation in a familiar place free of background noise and distractions. 
  3. Explain that you’re bringing up your concerns because you care. Use a soft, non-judgmental tone of voice. 
  4. Have a few examples to share with the person to substantiate your concerns. You might want to say “You don’t seem yourself” or “I noticed the other day that you had trouble with __________”. Again, don’t place blame or in any way sound harsh or judgmental. Be prepared that the person may not remember the examples you give if they are experiencing memory loss.
  5. Ask “what do you think? Do you have any concerns?” Give the person an opportunity to express their opinions on the topic.
  6. Be prepared for a range of possible reactions. The person may react with fear, anger or denial. Remember that these are normal reactions. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
  7. If the person gets angry, does not want to talk about it or does not want to get extra help, take a step back. Don’t get angry with them, yell or overreact. Take a deep breath. 
  8. Consider if the person may react differently if someone else raises the concern. Sometimes a person will listen to a friend before they’ll listen to a son or daughter. 
  9. Involve the person with any action plans or solutions to the problems. Be willing to negotiate. If they’re willing to accept home care once a week and you think it should be three times a week, start with once a week. Assess how it goes. Take small bites out of the problem rather than wanting it all solved at once. 
  10. If your first attempt at a conversation doesn’t go well, try again on another day. Timing is everything. What doesn’t work today may work tomorrow.  
It can be challenging to try to get someone to see a situation the same way you do but pushing what you think is best for your parents will likely only cause resistance. No one likes to be told what to do or to be treated like a child. Remember that your parent is still an adult and has the right to make decisions for him or herself. Hopefully, you will be able to steer the decisions in the right direction. At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is reassure your parents that you only want the best for them and that you care.
 
Need someone to talk to about your parents' situation? Just give us a call. 615.824.2571.  

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