It’s definitely a frustrating situation when an older parent won’t listen to you. Whether you are trying to help them with daily tasks such as bathing, toileting, and medication, it’s important to have cooperation on all sides. It can be a delicate situation to deal with an older parent because for most of your life they have been the authority. Now, due to illness or disability, you are in a position to care for them and need their cooperation, but you may be having difficulty getting that from them.
Here are six tips on what to do when your older parent won’t listen to you.
1. Create a Calm Environment
If your older loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s possible that a changing or chaotic environment can easily be a source of stress for them. Therefore, if you want to have a serious conversation with them about an important topic, it’s a good idea to do it on their turf. If you don’t live with them, this could mean visiting them and sitting down in their own living room, not in a foreign place such as a restaurant or the car. Make them feel comfortable and safe before having any serious conversation about life changes.
2. Ask Their Preferences
When you are starting out as a caregiver, you will learn intimate details about your loved one that you may not have known before. For instance, if you want to get them to bathe, you may have to start the conversation by asking them how they like to bathe, or at what time of day. The same goes for mealtime. Ask your loved one if they want to eat earlier or later, and then work with them based on their preferences. Remember your elderly parent or loved one is also an adult who deserves to be treated as such. Try to work within their preferences before you demand they comply with yours.
3. Use Positive Body Language
With diseases such as dementia, your loved one may lose some of his or her capacity to understand complex situations. They may be looking more toward your body language to understand the impact of the conversation. If it’s time to talk to your parent about more serious issues such as end-of-life living or a major change, and you feel that they aren’t listening, check up on your body language. Are you crossing your arms or turning away from them too often? Make a point to use body language that says, “I’m doing this with love” instead of “why aren’t you listening?” Simple hand-holding or gentle hug could be all the reassurance your loved one needs to continue the conversation.
4. Be Flexible and Ready to Compromise
If you know your loved one can be difficult sometimes when it comes to following directions or listening to you, you may have to go into the conversation knowing that you may have to make some compromises. For instance, use the preferences you already received from your loved one and create several different scenarios that would be acceptable. If your first attempt at getting your loved one to listen fails, then you may have to pull out a couple of different options for them to consider. For example, maybe they need certain nutrients but won’t eat the suggested foods. As a compromise, think of different ways they can get those nutrients either through supplements or alternative food options.
5. Listen and Pay Attention to Patterns
Believe it or not, listening is your most powerful tool when your loved one won’t listen. If they have dementia, there could be patterns in their speech and behaviors that can be linked to why they are doing certain things or not. Help make your loved one feel heard by actively listening and using your positive body language. Just the act of treating them with the respect they deserve could help them come around to listening better to you.
6. Be Patient
The golden rule of being a caregiver is to practice patience every day. Some days and tasks will be easier than others, but you have to always remember that you are dealing with a grown adult who at one point was living on their own and able to care for themselves. This can be a hard transition for everyone, so you must remember this every time you have a conversation with your loved one. Be patient with your words, actions, and mood. Caregiving can be challenging, but it’s a practice that is full of love.
If you are a family caregiver who is struggling with the increasing needs of your older loved one, it may be time to hire an in-home caregiving service. At 24/7 Nursing Care, we can place a qualified caregiver in your home at your convenience. Even if just for a few hours a day in the short-term or for the long run, we have a caregiver that fits your needs. Contact us today at 786-518-3622 in Miami or 954-949-1332 in Broward County for a complimentary consultation.
Stringfellow, A. (n.d.). Tips for Dealing with Stubborn Elderly Parents with Dementia: 50 Expert Tips for Communicating, Gaining Cooperation, Understanding Behavior, and More. Retrieved from https://blog.caregiverhomes.com/tips-for-dealing-with-stubborn-elderly-parents-with-dementia-50-expert-tips-for-communicating-gaining-cooperation-understanding-behavior-and-more