Growing up and taking on the caregiver role, you always strive to provide the best care possible for your parents.
However, stubbornness may get into the picture when the time comes, making it more challenging to look after your parents. They no longer accept your help or consider your advice. They may even become completely suspect of your input, questioning your good intentions.
You are not alone! A study published by the Journals of Gerontology revealed that more than 70% of adult children share the same feeling as yours, believing that their aging parents are stubborn and turn resistant to help and advice from their children.
How do we deal with stubborn parents that won’t listen? Read on as we share our 13 tips to help you deal with stubborn aging parents and keep the conflict to a minimum.
How to Deal with Stubborn Aging Parents: 13 Tips to Get Through Things When Your Parents Don’t Listen
Stubbornness in Seniors: What Is It & Why Does It Happen?
Stubbornness is a personality trait that describes a person who sticks to their decisions and beliefs. They stand their ground and are unwilling to alter their view, choice, or attitude toward a specific situation despite how good the intentions are.
In seniors, stubbornness is reflected in their determination to go against their caregivers’ or children’s sound advice and suggestions. When caring for your stubborn parents, it is common to experience conflicting opinions as they exhibit ongoing refusal towards your support. For example, you may suggest that it is much safer to have you accompany them to the supermarket, but they may insist that there is nothing to worry about, that the supermarket is only a few blocks away, or that you should stop treating them like a child.
Why does it happen? Many things can stir up stubbornness in seniors. Health experts explain that much of the problem originates from miscommunication, a desire to maintain independence, fear of the future, or feelings of uncertainty or powerlessness. Still it may be a consequence of chronic age-related health issues like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
How to Deal With Stubborn Aging Parents
Caring for your parents getting more and more stubborn is not always easy. Even though aging and becoming older are inevitable, keep in mind that your parents are not fully prepared for it, so they may not even realize that they are being stubborn.
Remember that your parents may be undergoing a mix of foreign and unsettling emotions. While you and your parents do not have to agree on everything, continuous conflict can add tension to the relationship and cause everyone to grow apart.
What can we do to get through, and how to deal with stubborn aging parents? Here are some tips to get through things and make peace with them.
Identify the Problems
Figuring out the motives behind your parents’ behaviors helps you understand why they are acting the way they do. Of course, there is a slight chance that your parents have always been headstrong long before this. If not, their stubbornness could result from unresolved past traumas, and you may remind them of someone who mistreated or hurt them when they were much younger. Getting to know your parents and identifying the root causes can help minimize misunderstandings and keep you and your parents on the same page.
Acknowledge Their Struggles & Concerns
Some seniors become increasingly stubborn due to the fear of losing their independence. Since your parents now rely on you for minor tasks, transitioning from the parental role to being parented may not be an easy experience.
Let your parents know that you are aware of their concerns and struggles in switching roles. Show your parents you care about them with constant patience, empathy, determination, and grace. Ensure that they always have someone to turn to when something goes wrong.
Treat Them Like Adults
Cognitive and physical changes associated with aging can cause your parents to act like misbehaving kids, but this doesn’t make them your children. Bossing them around or treating them like children only makes things worse and leads to more misunderstandings.
When taking on the caregiver role, remember that your parents are fully-developed adults who deserve respect and dignity even if they don’t make the best decisions. Be gentle and treat them as the adults they are.
Be Patient and Kind
When dealing with your stubborn parents, patience and kindness are virtually imperative. Again, this doesn’t mean that you will be able to end your parents’ stubbornness for good or that you can make peace with them overnight. Treating your parents with kindness and patience can reduce the elevated tensions for everyone involved. No matter how big the conflict is, it is always best to set them aside and move on for the better. You can work on them when the water is calmer.
Don’t Expect Overnight Changes
Even if your stubborn parents depend on you for almost everything, remember they still have the right to decide and do whatever they want.
As a caregiver, your role is to guide your parents and help make informed decisions, not putting too much pressure and forcing them to follow your plans. Rapid improvements when dealing with stubborn parents are nearly impossible. Sometimes, they may not even change at all. Do what you can to provide the best care possible, and leave the rest to work out as it will.
Spend More Time
Due to deteriorating health and frailer joints, your parents can no longer venture out as often as they used to. Staying put or being trapped inside for too long can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation, resulting in a slew of health conditions.
Spend more time with your parents, and include them in your daily tasks like cooking or doing moderate home chores. Be there and assist them as much as possible, from grocery shopping to running errands and picking up prescriptions. If you don’t live with your parents, pay them more visits and don’t forget to bring along your kids or relatives. It helps your parents avoid serious mental issues and get more chances to connect with their extended family.
Give Some Space When Needed
Sometimes, the best approach to dealing with your stubborn parents is to do nothing! Take a step back and give them some space. It allows both sides to take a break from heated arguments and ponder on what and why it happened the way it did. Do check-ins 3-4 times a week, stop by to drop lunches or dinners, take them out for a picnic or an outing, and connect with your parents through the phone to see how things are going. Only intervene when needed or in emergencies.
It is essential to understand that your parents’ strong determination to do something despite their limitations has nothing to do with you. Such behaviors reflect their deep-seated desire for independence.
Instead of saying “no” right away, be open to suggestions and seek compromises so that you and your parents can accomplish these things together without facing potential hazards.
Remind Them of Good Times
Seeing your parents acting out of their characters is not easy. However, it is more important to focus on the future and think about the good times rather than dwelling on frustrations and disputes brought on by your parents’ stubbornness. Find the best time to sit down and remind your parents about the good old days and all the fun your family used to share.
Let Them Know That They Matter
Since your parents have taken on parental responsibility for decades, they may have difficulty asking for your help, especially now that you are a grown-up with other obligations like kids or making ends meet. Let your parents know they still matter to you and you will assist them. Set up a phone list so your parents can call you or other family members for help.
Miscommunication is one of the reasons behind your parents’ stubbornness. This can be fixed by making an effort to connect and talk to them. Save some time to have a deep conversation with your parents when convenient. Communicating more with your stubborn parents allows you to better connect with them and learn about what is going on in their heads, and vice versa.
Connect With Their Doctors
If your parents’ misbehaviors and stubbornness result from health decline, consider enlisting help from their doctors or health professionals specialized in elder care. They might have the answers to your burning questions and recommend best practices and measures to alleviate any discomfort that may cause your parents to go against your support.
Go Easy on Yourself
As a caregiver, striking the perfect balance between your personal life and helping your aging parents can be daunting.
The truth is that you don’t have to. When feeling burned out, slowing down and taking a break is acceptable. Giving the best care for your parents is important, but remember to look after yourself as well. If necessary, hire part-time caregivers or elder care services to ease the burden on your shoulders.
If you have questions about how to deal with stubborn aging parents or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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