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Learn tips to better enable communication and responsiveness from your loved one

communication-elderly-parentIt’s hard to watch your elderly parent go through a life transition that isn’t so kind, isn’t it?  It’s even more difficult to try and help them, but they just don’t want to listen—or they tell you you’re creating the problem?  Remember the days back when your parents wanted you to listen to them?  Do you recall how they got you to do it, or did you ever listen—REALLY?  Today 77% of adult children believe their elderly parent or parents do not listen to their advice and this creates some serious concerns.  This is especially significant if your loved one suffers from multiple health problems too!

For example, many seniors suffer with some form of congestive heart failure, with many not even knowing they have it until it is diagnosed.  In fact, 25% of those aged 80 years of age and older have an advanced stage of CHF.  Elderly citizens with this condition need close monitoring and a special diet.  If you’re a caretaker of a loved one with this health condition, having them listen and take heed of medical advice is critical to improving their quality of life.  Staying on top of taking prescribed medication is absolutely critical to their well-being too!

Steps to Getting Your Parent to Listen and Changing their Mindset

The first step to getting your elderly parent to listen is to listen to them yourself.  You need to try to understand your mother or father’s motivation to their decisions—and this always begins with active listening.  You can’t expect them to listen if you don’t, right?  Even if some of their thoughts come out a little scattered and confusing, show them you care and are understanding their worry and concern.  This kind of attitude can get an elderly parent with dementia responding well.  It can leave them open to suggestions.  Let’s look at some other tips that work:

  • One of the most important issues is deciding what is most important and what isn’t in regards to getting him or her to actively listen. Sometimes you must pick what battle is most important!
  • Don’t infantilize a parent, that is a huge mistake! Make them feel they are still very much your parent and that they are competent.
  • Collaborate with their primary care provider and make sure they can help you get your mom or dad to listen and take a more active role in their health management plan.
  • Be sympathetic, but too much so. It is hard to let go of one’s independence.  Your parent might be feeling like following too many orders is relinquishing their own control of their life.  Don’t allow them to feel this way!
  • You must find an outside outlet for your feelings. When a parent refuses to listen and you know it isn’t in their best benefit you can’t let your exasperation explode on them without any reason. Find ways to pay attention to your own needs so you can remain a great caregiver.

Some of these tips are common sense and some you might not have even considered previously.  It does take a lot of work to be a caregiver and to work through complex issues.  This is even more difficult when a caregiver is providing care to his or her parent or parents too.  Try to always be considerate of your loved one’s emotions and be kind—but show yourself kindness as well!  One can’t work without the other.