How to Convince Older Relatives to Accept Help

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How to Convince Older Relatives to Accept Help

As family members get older, they'll likely need assistance with everyday tasks. They may be open to the idea of household tools such as at home first aids and adaptive kitchen products but adverse to accepting help from caregivers.

AARP pointed out that there are usually two reasons why older adults recognize that help around the home may be beneficial. The first scenario is one where they realize that their abilities have decreased. The second involves an incident such as a fall that forces them to face the realities of aging. 

Implementing help before accidents occur
Nobody wants an accident to take place before older relatives accept assistance. So how do you breach the topic without meeting resistance or threatening your loved one's sense of independence? 

Convincing him or her to fully recognize the situation can be difficult. But you're likely one of the people who know your loved one best. If you're unsure of where to begin, here are six steps that'll make the discussion easier.

  1. Put yourself in his or her shoes: As with any situation that requires persuasion, viewing things from the other party's perspective will give you better insight. Your family member has lived through many situations and has probably always managed on his or her own. As a child or younger relative, the older individual may not view you as someone who understands his or her situation. Recognizing this will help you prepare for the next step.
  2. Phrase sentences methodically: Home Instead noted the importance of wording. Though you mean well, consider your phrasing carefully. Suggestions will work better than commands. Rather than flatly state that your loved one requires help around the home, reconfigure the sentence to focus more on your needs. Let him or her know that your mind would be put at ease if he or she accepted help with housecleaning or tending the garden. This way, the issue is about you, not his or her decreased abilities.
  3. Make it a family effort: Regardless of whether you're planning to be the primary caregiver, you can open up the discussion to other relatives and family friends. Approach this carefully – you don't want it to come off as some kind of intervention. It should be a friendly chat where everybody feels comfortable sharing their opinions.
  4. Invite the right people: You'll want to invite everyone who's willing to help out with caregiving tasks, but don't forget to include your loved one's friends or mentors. He or she may be more willing to listen to a best friend's advice than yours when it comes to these issues. Of course, these individuals will need to agree with your plans. If not, have a chat with them first to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  5. Offer different kinds of help: Chances are, your family member can benefit from help with different tasks. Instead of deciding which ones he or she will receive assistance with, create categories, such as cooking and gardening, and divide these into subcategories. This way, he or she can still enjoy his or her favorite steps, such as creating the meal, but not having to prepare or clean. 
  6. Take it one step at a time: As time goes on, your family member may require more assistance. It may be tempting to provide for all of his or her needs at once, but if you face resistance, implementing one area of help at a time can allow him or her to adapt to the change and grow more accepting of it.