Tuesday, 10 October 2017 00:00

Five tips on how to handle the situation when an aging parent won’t listen

Rewind a good couple of decades and some of us may recall how not listening to our parents was a favourite past-time! As fate would have it, the tables may have turned later in life and now you may be struggling with aging parents who just won’t listen to you…

As our parents age and certain illnesses or memory loss becomes a reality, it becomes increasingly apparent that they don’t always know what’s best for them. This is where your advice as a child or carer on diet, driving, travel, health, housing, medication and even finances becomes important – the only challenge is getting them to listen!

If an aging parent has become increasingly stubborn when it comes to advice, here are a few tips on how to best approach the challenge:

Accept the situation

In the grand scheme of things, letting go of the situation and accepting that ‘’it is, what it is’’ will go a long way for your relationship with your parent(s). After all, they are adults with the right to make their own decisions, even if they are poor ones – as long as their decisions are not life threatening ones. The best path is to accept the situation – ‘’within reason’’!

Do it for your loved ones

If a parent is not willing to change their behaviour for themselves, then your best angle would be to convince them to do it for you and their grandchildren. A good approach would be to let them know it would be for your own peace-of-mind and that of their grandchildren.

Pick your battles

If it’s a bad habit that is life-threatening or putting a parent’s safety at risk, then attention needs to be given to the issue. But if your parent has picked up a habit that is merely irritating or even inconsequential, it may be best to pick your battles and let it go.

Find an outlet for your feelings

Bottling up for your feelings of frustration or resentment is just not healthy – that is why it’s important to find an outlet to express how you are handling the situation. Turn to an outside source, not your partner or parents as they are too close to you. A friend, a carer, an online support group or therapist are likely to have a more neutral stance on the situation and can help you to truly vent!

Treat them like the adults they are

It is important to not ‘infantilise’ your parents when it comes to giving them direction or advice. As an older child, staying autonomous in the situation is vital, while speaking to your parents in a manner that is both respectful yet firm is a great way to maintain your relationship.

In each situation it’s important to do your best to understand the motivation behind a parent’s behaviour. They are not a 3-year old child who is acting defiantly because they want to test your ‘’boundaries’’ or try establish their personality! Your parent may actually be afraid, confused, depressed or perhaps clinging onto their independence for as long as possible. Remember to have empathy and try understand what is motivating their stubborn behaviour!

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