Why Won't My Parent listen (part 2)
Helping and caregiving for a loved one is a difficult task and the dynamics of a family relationship are certainly in play. There are many reasons why a parent or loved one might not “listen” to your advice and it’s important to know the why behind their disregard. Understanding why they might not want to listen can help create better communication and make your job easier.
Big Changes can be Big Scares
While moving homes or changing your exercise routines and daily habits might not seem like enormous tasks to you when you’re younger, as we age, these changes can often seem daunting. This is especially so when the outcomes of these changes aren’t entirely clear or discernible to us.
If a parent has lived in the same house for several years, the thought of leaving to a new place and environment can be extremely stressful and anxiety inducing for them. Having to consider all the new routines and habits they will have to adopt in order to feel at home in a new space is a lot to ask of anyone, especially a senior.
These feelings can be compounded when they think about all the memories and experiences they have had in their current home. Leaving places—or even objects—behind can be scary and make one hesitant to take any steps in that direction.
Parents might continuously gripe or complain about how unnecessary a move is and it’s important to listen to their concerns and help ease their minds. They may be saying one thing, but really, they mean something else. Moving from their home or starting a new routine has many moving parts and they can become overwhelmed when thinking about all the steps it will take.
One way to help is to break up big moves into smaller chunks and steps instead of doing it all at once. Additionally, ensure them that they are not alone in this move or task. Explain to them that you—or a professional caregiver—will be there to help every step of the way and make the transition as smooth as possible.
They Don’t See the Benefits
Often, when elderly parents simply won’t listen to good advice, it may be that they are simply unable to see the benefits of that advice.
For example, let’s say the doctor has made new recommendations on medication or diet. These kinds of recommendations might get significant push-back from your parents and written off with whatever nickname they might’ve given to the doctor.
You might hear them say things like, “Why would I change that now, it’s too late” or “As if I’m going to stop eating x, that’s just silly ”
When they say things like this, it's important to know and be able to communicate the consequences, both short term and long term, if your parents don't follow this advice. Relate the consequences to concrete examples in their everyday life. Explain to them that if they don’t follow this advice, they may not have the energy or health to play with their grand kids as much, or to do the activities that they enjoy.
By effectively, but gently, reminding them of the consequences of their inaction, they’ll hopefully be more understanding to the change.