Aging parents can be stubborn, especially when it comes to doing what’s good for them. Research suggests that around three-quarters of adult children find that their parents simply don’t want to take their advice or carry out their instructions.
Getting an older relative to listen to you, therefore, can sometimes be a challenge. They don’t want to take orders from their kids. It’s not what they’re used to.
This sort of behavior is actually much more commonplace than you might imagine. Elderly relatives will frequently push back against your requests, even if you spell them out clearly. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of options. Here’s what to do.
Continue Treating Them Like Adults
Older people are very aware of how others treat them – just like everyone else. They don’t like being parented, especially by their children. It can make them feel powerless, helpless, and remind them of their frailty or lack of independence.
Adult children, therefore, should focus on treating them like adults as much as they can. Older people might be losing their capacities, but that doesn’t make them children. They still need to feel as though they can look after themselves. Sometimes, they will act irrationally, but it is usually an act of rebellion against the power dynamic in play. They want you to care for them. But they also want to retain a semblance of adult life at the same time. If you deny them that opportunity in your interactions, they’ll start behaving rebelliously and against their self-interest.
Learn To Understand The Motivation Behind Their Behavior
It’s worth spending a bit of time trying to understand the motivation behind their resistance to your wishes or instructions. It’s not because they’re trying to wind you up. Usually, there’s a deeper reason.
Sometimes, they won’t do what you say because they’re acting out of habit. Other times, it’s because of cognitive decline. If they have dementia, they’re often unable to follow precise instructions.
It could also be due to depression. What’s the point of trying if you’re old and ill?
One of the most important live-in care benefits is the fact that it provides a window into their inner world. You can find out the root of the issue and then work towards a resolution based on that.
Pick Your Fights
You don’t want to fight with an aging parent all the time. That’s rarely productive. Ideally, you want to pick your battles, choosing the fights that are the most important for their wellbeing, and then ignoring the rest.
If the issue is medication, then you don’t want to waste energy, getting into arguments about what they ate for dinner. Similarly, if there’s a safety issue, that should take priority over other concerns.
Don’t Blame Yourself
Older relatives are independent people. Their actions are their responsibility. If they do something that goes against their wellbeing, you can’t blame yourself. All you can do is try. If they’re intent on doing something irresponsible, you can’t always stop them.