Conflicts are inevitable when adult children assume the role of family caregiver for older parents. As family caregivers now make decisions that affect the elderly individuals, the dynamics in the relationship change. Here are tactics to minimize arguments with senior parents.
Firstly, recognize that arguments with elderly parents are natural. The relationship between adult children and senior parents takes on new life, as the latter becomes dependent on the former. Family caregivers can start to feel like the parents of their elderly parents.
Family caregivers often juggle multiple responsibilities simultaneously, providing for their own families while caring for older parents. Heavy care loads can tax anyone. Family caregivers will feel the stress of providing constant care and supervision to family members in two households.
At the same time, the aging process can cause bouts of anxiety in the elderly. Seniors may resist accepting their loss of independence, for instance, and vent their frustrations on family caregivers. The outcomes are clashes between the senior parent and family caregivers.
Adult children who learn effective communication strategies will be better able to reduce arguments with older parents, sometimes even avoiding conflicts altogether. Improved communications combined with local senior care solutions have the power to diffuse the battles with quarrelsome parents.
1. Involve Parents in Decision-Making
Maintaining a cordial relationship with elderly parents starts with respecting their dignity. Ask the parents how they would ideally like to age. Upon obtaining a clear picture of their care preferences, it is easier for both adult children and the parents to work toward this mutual goal.
Another way to preserve the parents’ dignity is to include them in decision-making. Allow the seniors to make decisions whenever possible. Seniors may make even the most negligible choices, such as deciding what to have for lunch, where to go on an outing or what to watch on television.
Giving parents as much autonomy as possible is beneficial up to a point. When older individuals are limited by cognitive or physical impairments, some decisions may no longer be realistic. Rather than argue, validate the parents’ wishes, but suggest safer alternatives.
A frail individual will unlikely be able to walk around the park without support, for example. Family caregivers should compromise by bringing a wheelchair to the outing. Or, when elderly parents want to but can no longer cook, introduce a professional in-home caregiver who will prepare balanced meals.
2. Choose a Neutral Approach
Avoid a confrontational approach in sensitive situations. Driving may no longer be safe for elderly parents. Rather than demand the car keys, start a discussion about how the parents feel about driving and if they experience challenges behind the wheel.
Choosing a neutral perspective will lead to greater gains than opting for a confrontational one. Confrontations only lead to parents responding defensively. Utilizing a neutral position, however, will lead to the seniors feeling less resistant and more open to offering their own solutions.
3. Engage in Reflexive Listening
Reflexive listening is an effective communications strategy that allows elderly parents to feel understood. Adult children who practice reflexive listening repeat what the parent said and offer an additional, possibly different, resolution. This proven tactic is useful in de-escalating arguments.
4. Introduce Changes Slowly
Current living arrangements may warrant major changes. When modifications are necessary for improved safety, convenience, or to facilitate better care, introduce these changes gradually and explain the reasons behind the changes. Seniors need time to adjust to big changes, like anyone else.
5. Invite Third Parties
Arguments can still arise, despite introducing changes slowly. De-escalate the conflicts by introducing the perspectives of an objective third party or other relatives. Strength is in numbers. Elderly parents may be less resistant to change when several people stand behind the better solution.
6. Diffuse with Distractions
Distractions are powerful in avoiding situations of potential conflict. When parents are headed toward an argument, choose a calming activity to diffuse the escalation. Start an art project, assemble ingredients to cook together, or look at photo albums as a family.
By enhancing parents’ moods and sharing positive experiences, family caregivers strengthen their existing bonds. As a result, senior parents are more likely to be receptive to suggestions in the future. Also, practice good listening, even if the parents have repeated the same story.
Keep in mind that elderly parents have the right to make their own decisions, and family caregivers will not always agree with them. Adult children who are in a caregiving role still must respect the parents’ wishes unless their choices put the seniors in physical danger.
Arguments require the participation of two parties. When family caregivers remain calm, the chances of conflicts escalating are significantly reduced. Practicing the abovementioned communication tactics will help preserve a positive and pleasant relationship between the senior parents and adult children.
Among the biggest changes to a senior’s lifestyle is introducing a professional caregiver. When it is no longer safe for elderly parents to remain at home alone without quality supervision, Assisting Hands Home Care is a practical solution. Our home care agency is committed to serving the elderly.
Seniors may have unique care needs, and our home care plans are customized to meet every care recipient’s personal requirement. Our care plans include a variety of nonmedical care tasks that allow older adults to remain at home and live as independently as is safely possible.
Assisting Hands Home Care professionals, for instance, are experienced in providing discreet support with personal hygiene tasks (ex, toileting and bathing), transportation to doctors’ offices, social events, and to conduct errands, timely medication reminders, meal preparation services, light housekeeping, and companionship.
Our home care services are flexible, too. We are available for brief respite care, overnight care, 24-hour care, live-in care, post-hospitalization care, hospice care, and dementia care. Home care services are the solution when family caregivers can no longer provide continual supervision of elderly parents.
Family caregivers are encouraged to turn to Assisting Hands Home Care, as so many satisfied families have in Joliet, Oswego, Plainfield, Romeoville, Yorkville, Bolingbrook, Illinois, and the surrounding communities. Our dedicated professional caregivers will ensure that your elderly loved ones live with dignity. Call us at (815) 201-5445 to schedule an in-home consultation.