How to Get Elderly Parents to Accept Help – The Caring Generation®
The Caring Generation® – Episode 58 September 30, 2020. On this caregiving radio program, Pamela D Wilson caregiving expert talks about caregiving for the elderly and answers the question How To Get Elderly Parents to Accept Help. Guest Dr. Katherine Ornstein Associate Professor of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai shares research about Spousal Caregiving Relationships in the last years of life.
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How to Get Elderly Parents to Accept Help
00:04 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation, with host Pamela D. Wilson, is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.
00:47 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio program, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on conversations about health, well-being, caring for ourselves and loved ones, all tied together with humor and laughter essential to being a caregiver. The topic for this caregiving radio program is how to get elderly parents and other elderly family members to accept help. Caregiving for the elderly can be frustrating when elderly parents won’t listen or refuse to cooperate. How does an elderly caregiver manage without going crazy? I’ll share a ten-point step-by-step process for adult caregivers to work through situations with parents and other elderly family members who just won’t listen.
01:43 Pamela D. Wilson: This process also helps caregivers gain an understanding of why it might look like elderly parents or a spouse isn’t listening when that issue may be communication, education, or an information gap. When we think about making decisions or agreeing to take a course of action, most of us want to understand the why. If we aren’t given enough information to understand, or if we don’t ask the right questions, that represents a communication gap. Our guest for the health and wellness segment of this program is Dr. Katherine Ornstein. She joins us to talk about spousal caregiving relationships in later life and the experiences of spousal caregivers. Katherine Ornstein is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine and the Institute for Translational Epidemiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Ornstein is currently leading several NIH and CDC funded research projects on caregiving. She received her BA Cum Laude from Duke University, her MPH from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from Columbia University. She has two children, and she is a caregiver for her mother and father, who both live in New York City. Let’s begin with a step-by-step process for how to get elderly parents to accept help.
03:09 Pamela D. Wilson: Step one is to avoid judgment. In other programs, we talked about the idea of judgment and how people who criticize others might be looking into the mirror of things they are critical about for themselves. A simple example: Your parent is overweight. Being overweight is a concern for you. Maybe you were overweight, or today you take great steps and care to manage your weight. You’re aware of the health risks of being overweight because you’ve seen all of these consequences in the health of friends or other family members. Maybe even your parents. In this instance, I can use my mother as an example. Most of her life, she was slender. When she began experiencing heart problems, and she broke her leg, all of this changed. She became not as active. She sat around a lot; she gained probably 30 pounds. She also smoked cigarettes. For my mom, all of these issues were a very bad combination that led to one health problem after another and her death at the young age of 69. Let’s say that one or both of your parents is experiencing a similar situation. You want to do something about it. You’re concerned. Where do you start? Start from that place of love.
04:28 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregiving for the elderly is a marathon; it’s not a sprint. Adult children caregivers may want to fix everything overnight, but that’s not the way caregiving for the elderly works. As an elderly caregiver, you can find more patience if you look at the situation from the perspective of problem-solving, like working at a puzzle. Combine this with the thought that whatever you learn from how to get elderly parents to accept help benefits you as an elderly caregiver and will benefit your children or anyone else you know who is caregiving for the elderly if you share your experiences. Next, be realistic. Given all the time in the world and all of the financial resources, caregiving for the elderly would be easy. As an elderly caregiver, the idea of how to get elderly parents to accept help, or if you are a CNA or care staff in a community, how to get elderly clients to accept help, can result in a great deal of uncertainty. How do you learn to do something that you have no or little experience doing? If we think about it, we as the adult child caregiver or the professional caregiver, the CNA, and the aging adult, we’re all in the same boat. Unless, of course, we have years of experience, which many of us don’t when we become a caregiver. If caregiving is new to you and elderly parents, you’re all learning at the same time.
06:00 Pamela D. Wilson: This is a beautiful thing. You all have a common starting point, which is, “we’re all in this together.” When you admit that you don’t know what you’re doing, discussions for how to get elderly parents to accept help can establish common ground, and maybe you can laugh about it a little. You are learning to become an elderly caregiver. You will make mistakes. We all do when we’re learning something new. Your parents are learning what it’s like to have an aging body that may not be healthy because of lifelong habits and lifestyles. Elderly parents don’t have the luxury of turning back the clock to change the present. You—as an adult caregiver—have a significant opportunity to create a safety net and a plan for your care, when older, through the experiences you’re having today with your parents. Recognize caregiving for the elderly as an opportunity to learn. With that mindset of no judgment, how do you start the conversation on how to get elderly parents to accept help? Step two is to notice and ask aging parents about changes in habits, their concerns, and then stop and listen. Then, rather than focusing on the problem or any kind of blame, choose to be the problem solver.
07:16 Pamela D. Wilson: Choose to be that solution. Here’s a personal example. I remember my mom expressing concern that if my father died first, she wouldn’t have enough money or income to pay the bills. My dad worked all of his life. He accumulated pensions and social security earnings. My mom reared six kids, and she worked after all of us were back in school. But all in all, she probably only worked about 15 years of her life. And child-rearing is work—but I mean like work in a paying job. She didn’t have enough time to accumulate a lot of social security earnings, and money to pay the bills was a repeated concern of hers. At the time, I was way too young to have a conversation with Mom, and I didn’t know any better to offer any type of solution. I, like you today, in many situations that you’re dealing with, I didn’t know any better. As far as I know, my brothers and sisters also didn’t talk about money with my mom. Knowing what I know today from having more than 20 years in the caregiving field, I know how I would have handled that situation differently. But back then, I just didn’t know.
08:30 Pamela D. Wilson: Today, I also know the steps that I have taken to ensure that I have money to pay for care when I’m older. Several years after my mom’s death, I purchased long-term care insurance. Many of you caregivers might be in the same situation. The process of education is so important. You can find it in my online caregiver course, Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Staying at Home and Beyond. We are off to a break, up next Dr. Katherine Ornstein. She shares research about spousal caregiving relationships in later life. I’m Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation radio show, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
11:30 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio show for caregivers, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Joining us is Dr. Katherine Ornstein, an associate professor in the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, and the Institute for Translational Epidemiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Ornstein, welcome.
11:55 Dr. Katherine Ornstein: Thank you so much for having me here today.
11:58 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s my pleasure. Let’s begin by talking about spousal caregiving in the last years of life. Your research article talks about solo and supported caregiving spouses. What’s the difference?
12:12 Dr. Katherine Ornstein: I have studied caregivers for many years, really with a strong interest in trying to understand how some individuals fare better or worse in their caregiving role. And that one area that has not been explored was just actually trying to examine whether some caregivers are essentially alone in their role versus having someone support them. So a solo spouse caregiver is someone who’s essentially doing all of the caregiving tasks without any help; bathing, dressing, helping with finances, cooking, shopping. Whereas a supported caregiver may have help from one or many people, family, or paid caregivers, that are helping them to support their spouse at the end of life.
13:00 Pamela D. Wilson: And is there any research on the percentage of spouses who are, like you say, these solo caregivers versus those who have family and other support.
13:07 Dr. Katherine Ornstein: In a recent study that we did among spouses living in the community with their partners, so that means not in cases where someone may have been in a nursing home, we found that 55% were actually caregiving alone. That means, again, no one else, paid or unpaid, assisting with activities. And this proportion of solo caregivers, again, in the last year of life, essentially, was considerable even among subgroups that we examined. So when we looked at even just surviving male spouses, we found that 47% were caregiving alone. And I mention that because that means that this is not just women trying to do it all. Men are also going at it alone. And additionally, dementia is an area that I’m particularly interested in because of its caregiving challenges. And even among those caring for someone with dementia, which is really particularly burdensome, requiring more hours of supervision and the need to help with more complex tasks such as bathing—47% were doing it alone.
14:22 Dr. Katherine Ornstein: And interestingly, among solo caregiving spouses, more than half of them had children either living with them or not far away, which suggests that this is something that’s really happening. It’s not just because they have no one there. It also reminds us that simply having children in geographic proximity is not enough to mobilize caregiving action.
14:51 Pamela D. Wilson: Those statistics are shocking to me. So we talk about caregiving toward the end of a spouse’s life. It’s stressful. What aspects make that particularly stressful?
15:03 Dr. Katherine Ornstein: That’s a great question. End of life caregiving can add a whole new level of stress to caregivers who may already have been providing care for many years. In the last years of life, caregiving tasks may include the management of pain, shortness of breath, other symptoms. There can be frequent hospitalizations, and associated transitions home or to facilities, subacute rehab. Also, it’s just decision-making stress regarding nursing home entry, hospice, use of life-sustaining treatments. I’d also note that at the end of life, spouses, in particular, are faced with high out-of-pocket health-related spending, which is particularly stressful. And also, they’re grieving. They’re preparing for death. They’re reaching out to others. Thinking about funerals. All this, while still handling the day-to-day caregiving tasks, which we know can be very challenging.
16:15 Pamela D. Wilson: So the obvious thing to me would be hire a caregiver that can be beneficial. How often do these spouses do this, and what can the benefits be?
16:27 Dr. Katherine Ornstein: So hiring a caregiver, or sometimes we call it a formal caregiver or just using paid care, is an option, and certainly, that makes sense. However, we find in using national data that it’s really not done that frequently. In our study, which was among those at the end of life who had a spouse, we found only about 12% used any paid care. In other studies done across the US, among those with dementia living in the community, only about a quarter received any paid care, and fewer are receiving substantial hours of paid care. So there’s obviously barriers. Why not? Well, many of these barriers are financial, right? Half of paid care is essentially supported by the individuals or families privately, and private aids are very expensive, and such services are not covered routinely nor for the long-term via Medicare.
17:35 Dr. Katherine Ornstein: Also, what we find is that there are other reasons why a family member, and a spouse, in particular, may not want to have a paid caregiver in their home. They may feel reluctant to ask for help. They’re the spouse. They’re therefore supposed to be able to take care of their partner. Or they may have a lack of perceived choice about caregiving. They may not want to provide care all the time, but they feel it’s their duty. Caregiving spouses are less likely than other family caregivers to hire paid care or to use community services. So a child who’s serving as a caregiver would be more likely to hire someone to help them out. And we also find this is especially true for women spouses caring for their husbands. They’re less likely to hire someone to help them in their day-to-day caregiving tasks.
18:35 Pamela D. Wilson: Okay. Yes, it’s difficult for caregivers. Listeners, we will continue our conversation with Dr. Katherine Orenstein after this break. The podcast of this radio show for caregivers, including the show transcripts that you can read for all of The Caring Generation shows, are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. Look for the media tab and scroll down to The Caring Generation radio show tab. All the shows are there. I’m Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
21:29 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. We’re back to continue our conversation with Dr. Katherine Orenstein. Doctor, are there statistics about caregiving spouses who are in poor health?
21:47 Dr. Katherine Ornstein: Yes. Not surprisingly, caregiving spouses may, in fact, be in poor health themselves. They are themselves older. Yet they’re continuing to take on challenging, often physically intensive, tasks; and again, without support. In our study, we found that 10% of spouses were really unable to provide assistance at the end of life. Because of their own illness, they were in and out of the hospital themselves. And I think this is really important to be aware of from the perspective that we can’t just assume that a spouse or any caregiver is necessarily ready, willing, or able to help, even if someone is dying. So a lot of times, we talk about a need for a systematic assessment of the caregiver and the caregiving situation because we need to recognize that caregiving spouses, especially may themselves have their own health risk.
22:54 Pamela D. Wilson: And for these solo spousal caregivers who—the numbers are high, 55%, 47%. How much time are they devoting at the end of life toward a spouse’s care?
23:08 Dr. Katherine Ornstein: We found that solo spousal caregivers are averaging more than 40 hours per week alone caring for their spouses, and they’re really engaged in extensive tasks at the end of life. So this is about a third are assisting with bathing, more than 40% percent are helping with getting dressed; 10% are assisting with toileting, which is a very challenging task for the caregiver and the care recipient. Solo caregivers of those with dementia are spending even more time helping, more like 60 hours per week, and they’re more likely to be involved with each and every care task, both the self-care tasks as well as household activities.
24:01 Pamela D. Wilson: And you talked a little bit about the health of caregiving spouses, and I’m going to ask you this, and if you can’t answer it, it’s okay. But do any of these spousal caregivers who are doing all these tasks, do they get physically injured themselves? Was there any discussion about that? I’m just curious.
24:17 Dr. Katherine Ornstein: Well, there’s a lot of research on the health of spousal caregivers in general. We’ve done work ourselves looking at this to find that spousal caregivers will get sick. They will get hospitalized. This is very challenging, and in part, it’s because it’s very stressful to be a caregiver and providing that service day-to-day. There’s also a lot of research just around the bereavement experience and the negative health effects around that. It’s pretty well known, what we think of as a dying of a broken heart, or sometimes we call it the widowhood effect or the bereavement effect, where individuals die soon after caring for their spouses. But we see all sorts of increase in depression is very common among bereaved spouses. Again, not just expected grief, but really beyond that. We also see, after bereavement, other negative health effects, including reduced health maintenance. So you just kind of aren’t taking care of yourself. You’re not getting that mammogram or seeing the doctor. And not surprisingly, we’ll see the associated increased hospitalizations after death with related cost associated with that because of the lack of self-care activities.
25:50 Pamela D. Wilson: And what recommendations does the research have for the spousal caregivers who are alone and then also those with support?
26:00 Dr. Katherine Ornstein: Well, I really want to point out that many caregivers may prefer caregiving alone. And I think what this means is we have to actually—we can’t make assumptions about what’s best, to be alone or to have support. We really have to respect the personal preferences of the caregiver, including the desire to care alone for a spouse as long as possible. Choosing to play a caregiving role independently may offer a meaningful and really valued personal experience, and stepping into the role of a solo caregiver may be beneficial and help them feel more connected to the loved one. And frankly, there may just be challenges in coordinating care with others. Shared decision-making activities can be really difficult. That being said, in many cases, caregiving spouses really become more isolated and may be causing themselves more stress from being alone. They may benefit from greater support, particularly during the final years.
27:10 Dr. Katherine Ornstein: And they need to reach out for help if they need it from family and friends and seek out paid care if they’re able to do so. Planning in advance as to how care is to be provided when a loved one gets ill is helpful. Although caregivers should allow themselves the option to change course. We may think we can handle it on our own, but it just may not be possible. One is not going to know what it is like to care for a dying spouse—really until they’re faced with it. And they just may not know what they need to handle the role. So I urge caregivers to allow themselves the option to ask for help. I’d also say that we really have to advocate for changes within our system to support caregivers. And part of the support is really allowing more opportunities for caregivers to have resources, to have respite care, to have better access to paid care so that those options are available for those who need it, as well as more availability of palliative care services for those at the end of life.
28:25 Pamela D. Wilson: Yes, I totally agree that our country does not support caregivers enough, and hopefully, we will get there. Dr. Ornstein, thank you so much for joining us. Listeners, invite your friends and your family to join us every Wednesday evening. Add The Caring Generation podcast app to the cellphone of elderly parents to make it easy for them to listen. You can do that on Apple, Google, Spreaker, and many other podcast sites. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
31:20 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Helpful articles for caregivers are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. Also in my free caregiving library, and in my Caring for Aging Parents Caregiving Blog. Let’s continue with step number two for how to get elderly parents to accept help, which is creating a solution-oriented mindset. Elderly caregivers can become discouraged when parents, patients, or clients won’t listen. If we stop for a moment to think about why people don’t listen, why do you think this might be? In caregiving for the elderly, not listening might result from physical problems like hearing loss, or having memory loss concerns like dementia or Alzheimer’s. These concerns, I talk about these in The Caring Generation podcast called Warning Signs: Activities of Daily Living, and another podcast called The Signs of Dementia Checklist.
32:22 Pamela D. Wilson: What other reasons exist for people not listening? Why might you not listen to information or advice or even suggestions from your parents? It’s simple. We are just not interested. We don’t see how the information can help us. We don’t have the time. We’re not motivated. Whatever they’re telling us isn’t going to convince us that making a change will improve anything. Elderly parents, they feel the same way. This leads us to step number three for how to get elderly parents to accept help from you or paid caregivers. Relating the benefits of taking action to their desires; what they want is an idea. But getting them involves asking questions and listening. Think about this step as gathering evidence or investigating their needs. Adult children can make much more progress when caregiving for the elderly includes being interested in your parents, asking what they’re worried about, finding out where they might be struggling and how you can help.
33:21 Pamela D. Wilson: The idea of being non-judgmental, as we talked about, here is very important. The conversation might go like this, “Mom, Dad, you’ve worked hard all these years to take care of the house. It seems like the house is becoming more work for you. What are you thinking about how you’re going to keep up with everything?” Asking broad questions might start your parents thinking if they have not already had thoughts about managing the house. At this point in the how to get elderly parents to accept help, you’re in the information seeking and gathering process. As you receive information, this can be the step where elderly caregivers want to jump in and offer solutions. It’s also possible that you’ve been thinking about how to get elderly parents to accept help for some time, and you are dying to jump in.
34:03 Pamela D. Wilson: As an elderly caregiver, try to be patient. One option is to make a list with your aging parents of concerns and prioritize what your parents think is most sensitive or time urgent. This caring for aging parents checklist establishes the idea of teamwork, which many of us do in the workplace. How many of you work on teams or with others? Caregiving for the elderly, whether for your aging parents or on a team in the workplace, it is really a team effort. Initially, caregiving might only involve aging parents and adult children. But eventually doctors, in-home caregivers, insurance companies, nurses, physical therapists, nursing homes, assisted living communities, hospitals, a care navigator.
34:48 Pamela D. Wilson: The list goes on. Step number four to how to get elderly parents to accept help is to remain calm and detached from what parents think is important, especially if your priority list is different. If you start to push or pressure, you lose. It’ll be more difficult then to create win-win solutions where elderly parents want to participate in helping themselves. As your parents set priorities, ask for their solutions. “Mom, Dad, what do you think we should or can do about this?” If your parents aren’t sure that opens the door for you. You can say, “Well, why don’t you think about it? I’ll do the same. I’ll do some research into options, and we can talk again this week.” How to get elderly parents to accept help benefits from caregivers presenting a plan that you are working to create as you gather information. Step number five for how to get elderly parents to accept help is to do your homework. If you are a new elderly caregiver, you might have the same knowledge gap that your elderly parents have. You’re not sure what to do. You may not know what resources exist or where to turn for information. Closing that gap is easy.
36:00 Pamela D. Wilson: My website, PamelaDWilson.com, is a resource for caregivers. More than 20 years of experience and a lot of TLC goes into this radio show every week. There are over 50 shows for download, with the transcripts on The Caring Generation page on my website. You can listen to the podcast on your cell phone. You can add them to the cell phone of your elderly parents for a little bit of entertainment. There are also caregiving articles on my website. I have a different online site with more articles and caregiving information in my free membership library. All of this is based on my actual experience working with caregivers, research from doctors, educators, and other people. My book, The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes, is also on the website. You can use my website, PamelaDWilson.com, as a starting point for opening conversations about how to get elderly parents to accept help. Caregiving for the elderly, it is a learning experience for all of us. And if your workplace doesn’t offer support for caregivers, many still do not, unfortunately, talk to your human resource department about being a caregiver. Talk to them about the help that you need that would benefit you to keep you employed and to make your life a lot easier.
37:18 Pamela D. Wilson: You can also ask your human resources department to contact me about speaking engagements. They can sponsor my online caregiving course, it’s called Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home and Beyond. That information takes caregivers through all of the stages of caregiving; how to plan, what questions to ask, how to advocate for care. Online webinars and other information are organized in there to help you learn what you need to know for how to get elderly parents to accept help. The idea is using data and expert information to tell a story to your parents who might see you as that young 12-year-old child who doesn’t know anything, even though you’re 50. Use experts like myself to substantiate ideas for solutions to their concerns. While they may not see your opinions as valid, it’s more difficult to agree with expert information or research. Not that it can’t be done—but don’t we all keep hearing the science and the experts don’t lie?
38:15 Pamela D. Wilson: Experts like myself with years of professional caregiving experience, we have solutions for how to get elderly parents to accept help because we did this with all of our clients for many, many years. Context is another consideration for investigating caregiving resources. Because I was a court-appointed guardian, a power of attorney, and a care manager, the breadth of my experience is expansive. When you make research progress, make sure you’re collecting data from reliable and trustworthy sources. We’re heading out to a break. This is Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
41:16 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, author, and speaker on The Caring Generation, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Information for corporations and groups about elder care and caregiving, on-site education, online webinars, video conferencing presentations, and creating a workplace where people matter by using people and behavioral data are on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com. We’re back with step number six for how to get elderly parents to accept help. After you have done all of this research to address the concerns and priorities of your elderly parents, ask yourself, “What else don’t I know that I might need to know to have a conversation with Mom and Dad?” Have you been involved in attending medical appointments with your parents? Do you have an information gap about their health diagnosis and potential consequences? Have your parents completed legal documents if something should happen to them? How can this additional investigation and planning help you make a plan? In any of this information gathering, have you thought about starting conversations with your children about how helping their grandparents is helping you think about your care?
42:29 Pamela D. Wilson: The earlier that families talk about caregiving for the elderly and being an elderly caregiver—results in less stress and fewer surprises when the need arises to be a caregiver, that includes your children for you. In step number six, you create a list of talking points to prepare for a discussion with elderly parents. When you think of talking points for caregiving for the elderly, think about Mom and Dad’s burning priorities that they told you, and work your priorities in with their concerns. My suggestion is to tackle one at a time; and if the one you want to tackle is that big one, then step number seven in how to get elderly parents to accept help is what I call chunking, or compartmentalizing. Find an example of your own life of a big goal that you thought seemed impossible to accomplish. But if you chop it up, it seems manageable. Let’s say that you have a garage full of stuff, many of us do. You know that you should clean out the garage, but you keep putting it off because it’s no fun, and it seems like this massive project. What progress could you make if you worked in the garage for two hours a week every Saturday?
43:35 Pamela D. Wilson: This is the idea of chunking what might seem to be an impossible project into small blocks of time or effort that really are manageable. Chunking is an option for how to get elderly parents to accept help. As we age, there might be a lot less motivation or interest to really change anything we’re doing. Life-long habits like poor nutrition, being overweight, sitting on that couch all day watching television, smoking cigarettes, those become harder to change. And unless something shocking happens like a stroke or a heart attack, most people aren’t motivated to change. You’ll hear elderly parents say all the time, “I’ve earned it. I’m old. I’m not going to change. I’m not doing anything.” But the motivation for caregivers comes from us watching our elderly parents become sick and struggle. And I know that from my experience of being a professional caregiver for more than 20 years since my mom died, being in poor health because of lifestyle choices. It really is partially a choice. Some is hereditary, but we can change that.
44:38 Pamela D. Wilson: Our life when we’re older, it doesn’t have to be miserable or sick or painful, but we don’t talk about this. Not the healthcare system, not the education system. Health prevention and caregiving issues these have been around for hundreds of years. We know what to do. But they don’t receive a lot of attention because they seem to be family issues. Caregiving doesn’t yet have the massive effects of something like the coronavirus that has affected the economy, business, and families. And even though caregiving involves all three, the economy, business, and families, research statistics about the effects of caregiving on women, working caregivers, and retired adults, including spousal caregivers exist. But what nobody wants to really say is why put forth the effort to solve a problem that we can’t solve? Older adults die. We can’t argue about death being optional. Sick and dying people generate money for hospitals, doctors, and health insurance companies. The national debt for entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, is growing in record numbers. And the reason is simple. It’s a lack of education that we could solve.
45:50 Pamela D. Wilson: Consumers are not cost-sensitive because employers and healthcare plans cover most healthcare costs. We don’t know what things cost. Healthcare providers are paid on the number of people they treat, not the quality of care. We certainly know that. Talking to elderly parents about money to pay for care—if it wasn’t identified as their priority—it should be something that is high on that priority list. Because caregiving for the elderly usually means that adult children become significantly involved in care to save your parents money. But what is the plan for when money for daily living expenses, or if money is paid on care, what happens when that runs out? Step number eight for how to get elderly parents to accept help and talk about caregiving needs is to schedule a meeting as a follow-up to creating that list of concerns. You have your research—you have facts then—and you’re talking about facts, not opinions, about the importance of making a plan. When possible, create a list for that meeting or a written agenda, and give it to your parents so that they have time to think.
46:57 Pamela D. Wilson: In your mind, decide on the most important issues and those that you can postpone for later and issues that aren’t time-sensitive. How to get elderly parents to accept help involves gaining their participation. Agree on common goals like keeping elderly parents at home. Look at the risks of making this happen, it could be health issues. It could be other issues, and then agree on how you’re going to reduce that risk. That list may include you attending doctor appointments. Your parents might agree to walk or exercise daily, maybe better nutrition, taking medications on schedule. If you look at that meeting as an opportunity to agree on how you and your parents can help each other. It’s a great opportunity. Think back to your childhood. What were you willing to do to get what you wanted from an elderly parent? Did you mow the lawn to get an allowance? Did you clean the house to get an allowance? In many cases, elderly parents can’t do it all alone.
47:53 Pamela D. Wilson: How to get elderly parents to accept help may be making it easy for them to accept help, knowing that they have a part and a responsibility to participate. We’re going to talk about steps number nine and steps number ten for how to get elderly parents to accept help coming up after this break. Do visit my website, www.PamelaDWilson.com. On there is a lot of helpful information for caregivers and aging adults in my free caregiving library, in my Caring For Aging Parents blog, in my online programs, and my book, The Caregiving Trap. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving author, expert, and speaker. You’re with me live on The Caring Generation from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
51:00 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. This is The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. So let’s continue to talk about how to get elderly parents to accept help, and I want to just give a sneak peek next week for the show. We’re going to be talking about work-family conflict and the impact that emotions have on the well-being of caregivers. Catherine O’Brien is going to be joining us from the Mathers Institute to share her research. Step number nine for how to get elderly parents to accept help is to be prepared to negotiate. Caregiving for the elderly involves participation by both sides. An elderly caregiver can’t do it all, and neither can an elderly parent. Look at a 50/50 level of participation. Use the research and data that you collected about the care options and about the consequences of doing nothing. Paint a picture of how worsening health can create an imbalance between the amount of time and effort for you in caregiving for elderly parents. Talk about how it can affect your job, talk about how it can affect your future income so that your parents have a vested interest in helping you. Elderly parents can’t move mountains alone. How to get elderly parents to accept help can feel like climbing that mountain.
52:19 Pamela D. Wilson: Step number ten for how to get elderly parents to accept help is the idea of persistence. Elderly parents may say no the first time to your ideas or suggestions because they don’t have enough facts. They don’t agree about the consequences, and some of them lack motivation. You can re-approach these concerns multiple times. Because of a slowing mental function, making decisions might take longer for elderly parents. Don’t give up on the idea of how to get elderly parents to accept help, but realize that having facts and data takes the right or wrong out of caregiving for the elderly. Expert information removes the idea of parents win, caregivers lose, or the other way around. Make caregiving for elderly parents a win-win situation. By avoiding judgment, creating solutions, identifying the benefits of change, remaining calm, and presenting credible sources of information, you lower defensive thoughts about elderly parents being willing to accept help.
53:24 Pamela D. Wilson: You can also become more aware of the actions and the steps you can take today as an elderly caregiver to plan for your future and to talk to your children about planning for their future. In talking with your elderly parents, create those ongoing talking points. And the list of priorities that could be time sensitive or money sensitive. Continue to work through them one by one. Chunk large changes into small steps. Schedule meetings to let your elderly parents know that you’re not giving up. Be prepared for these conversations. Have a little bit of give and take where each side is negotiating and where you don’t feel like you’re winning and your parents are losing or vice versa. And do speak up.
54:07 Pamela D. Wilson: Do say things like, “Mom or Dad, I need you to help a little bit more,” or, “Am I not hearing you, right? Is there something I’m missing about the help that you need?” Ask questions, ask for the help, the education that you need from elderly parents, from your family, and the workplace. If you have ideas for future radio programs, you can visit my website, www.PamelaDWilson.com. There is a contact me button. You can click on that and send me your thoughts. There is also a caregiver survey on my website; it’s underneath that contact button, and basically, it asks you to share your caregiving experiences and your thoughts with me so that I can continue to create interesting radio shows for you, articles, tips, other information that’s on my website. Many caregivers are so wonderful about sharing their information.
54:55 Pamela D. Wilson: I have a caregiving group; it is on Facebook. It’s called The Caregiving Trap. You are welcome to go to my Facebook page, which is PamelaDWilsoncaregivingexpert. Search for The Caregiving Trap group, and you can request to be joined into that group. It’s a great group of caregivers, actually from all over the world, who share their experience. Who share their thoughts with other caregivers. It’s interesting. Everybody is so supportive and so positive because sometimes caregivers are judged from people who aren’t caregivers and other people who don’t understand what caregivers go through on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t matter whether you are 20, 70, or 80, help is there. Invite your family and friends to join us every Wednesday night here on The Caregiving Caring Generation radio show. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, author, and speaker. God bless all of you caregivers. Sleep well tonight, have a fabulous day tomorrow, and a great week until we are here again together.
55:55 Announcer: Tune in each week for The Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson. Come join the conversation and see how Pamela can provide solutions and peace of mind for everyone, here on Pamela D. Wilson’s The Caring Generation.