Are your parents at the point where the need for help is no longer optional? Have you talked to them about the subject and received a cold shoulder from one or both? Relationship difficulties are often at the root of challenges in accepting or discussing the need for care. These challenges exist not only between parental relationships but between relationships between children and their parents. Caregiving and long term care are subjects many find uncomfortable to discuss. Confronting our own mortality is difficult.
The challenge begins with the relationship between your parents. You lived with them as a child and likely remember which parent made most of the decisions, managed the finances, served as disciplinarian or organized the household. You may recall how well your parents managed or avoided conflict. These challenges do not become easier when parents age, they become more intensified, more prominent. And parents often resist when children suggest that they need help because they are the parent; it’s their job to give their children advice, not vice versa. Nor do parents want to be reminded that they are aging and may need help.
When one spouse needs care and the other resists, the situation becomes even more difficult. The caregiving spouse often receives pressure or experiences acts of retaliation from the resisting spouse. This child-like behavior likely existed during the marriage but in a much smaller scope. It often prevents or delays the caregiving spouse from receiving support for themselves or in caring for their loved one. If you are a child with parents in this situation this is the time to give your support. Talk to both of your parents about how the situation would benefit from an outside assessment to determine care needs. This takes the pressure off individuals emotionally involved in the situation and allows for discussion based on factual information. Give support to the parent needing care; however be realistic in your discussion so they know that not making the decision to accept help places the other parent and themselves at risk.