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Convincing Your Aging Parents to Get In Home Care

By: Clare Absher RN, BSN

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Hiring in home care is frequently NOT a choice that our aging parents are agreeable to, despite their desire to remain at home. Mom or Dad often express that outside help is not welcome as they are quite capable of managing on their own. Hiring a caregiver is seen by many old folks as a threat to their independence and an invasion of privacy. Apprehension and distrust of in-home caregivers are also common reasons for refusing home care. As a former home health nurse, I have helped numerous families problem-solve for resistant aging parents. My experiences have left me with some suggestions that you may find worth trying.

1. Ally with the more independent parent.

When your parents are both living and reside in their own home together, direct your attention to the less needy one. For instance, suggest that their spouse would be the one to benefit from outside assistance even when they both might. By allying yourself with the more independent parent, you may ultimately be able to get them both to accept the help they require.

2. Get the caregiver in the door.

Another approach might be to suggest hiring a caregiver to manage some household chores and NOT actual hands-on care or personal assistance. Often this is seen as less threatening to a loved one's independence and will serve as a means to "get the caregiver in the door". Emphasize getting help handling the heavy housework such as vacuuming, and laundry. Suggest help with food shopping and travelling to appointments, particularly when driving is no longer an option. In this manner, your parents may accept help they would not have otherwise been agreeable to. Your hope is that they will see the value in having additional assistance by develop a trusting relationship with their caregiver.

3. Recall the famous line "It's not you, it's me".

If your parent is living alone or with you, redirect the attention on YOU as the caregiver needing the home care assistance for peace of mind. Emphasize that you would be the one to benefit a lot from such help as many parents place concern for their children' welfare before their own. Suggest that bringing in a housekeeper for instance, would alleviate your worry about managing daily household chores such as cleaning, shopping, meals, and laundry. Or should a nurse aide come in to assist your loved one with bathing and personal care, you would have more time to manage other household responsibilities. As a working caregiver, suggest that by having a companion or assistant stay with your loved one, it would relieve you of worries and concerns while away.

4. Call upon a trusted professional.

Another idea might be to seek the help and advice of a trusted professional who is someone your parents hold in high regard. They might surprise you by their willingness to accept the advice of a long time family physician, a former or current home health nurse, or a family friend in the medical field, prior to your own input. Employ their trusted status as a means to relay your concerns and advise your parents in the right direction.

5. Don't take their resistance personally.

In many families, your conflicting role as the child and caregiver hinder your well-meaning attempts at helping your parents. The basis for your actions should not be confused by misguided guilt. Therefore, do not take their rebuttals personally or offensively, but rather focus on a necessary means to an end.