Whether they refuse to move to a safer location or if they simply won’t accept the reality of their medical ailments, it can be frustrating dealing with an aging parent who doesn’t listen. However, there are steps you can take and things you can say to make the situation easier. In this post, we’ll review how to help elderly parents who don't want help and what to do when elderly parents won't listen.
Why Do Parents Stop Listening?
There can be various reasons why the elderly may not seem to be listening to you or others. First and foremost, age-related hearing loss, known as presbycusis, is a common issue that affects many older individuals, making it difficult for them to hear or comprehend conversations, especially in noisy environments. Additionally, cognitive changes, such as memory decline or the onset of dementia, can impact their ability to focus and retain information. Emotional factors also play a role; they might be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or even isolated, leading them to withdraw from conversations. Furthermore, the elderly might have a different perspective on life, shaped by their vast experiences, which might make them less receptive to newer ideas or viewpoints. It's essential to approach such situations with patience, empathy, and understanding, ensuring that communication is clear and that they feel valued and respected.
Tips for Dealing With Aging Parents Who Won’t Listen
It can be challenging when your parent refuses to listen to your guidance and advice, but there are things you can do to help them or at least accept the situation for what it is. Below are some useful tips caregivers can use.
Practice empathy. Try to see where they are coming from and why it is difficult for them to lose autonomy. Are they behaving this way to assert independence, or is this a result of depression or some other underlying ailment?
Try radical acceptance. It may be frustrating, but at the end of the day, you can’t force your aging parents to do anything. Accepting this simple fact may improve your relationship with them and decrease negativity.
Pick your battles. There are some fights that just aren’t worth it. If your aging parent refuses to get a smartphone, for example, it’s not going to be the end of the world. However, a safety or accessibility issue could be dangerous for them.
Have a support system in place. You may care deeply about your aging parent, but sometimes, you need to express frustration. Make sure you have an outlet to vent your frustration, too. This can be a friend, a geriatric care manager, or even a therapist.
Treat them like adults. With you being the caregiver, it may seem like you and your parent have switched roles, but it’s important to remember that they are still adults. You’re much more likely to get the outcome you want if you treat them as such.
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Things Not to Say to Your Aging Parents
Sometimes, just watching what you say to a parent who doesn’t listen could make a huge difference. Below are some things you should never say to your aging parent.
“You need to use a cane.” Some older adults worry that a cane or walker makes them appear “old.” Try to gently encourage them by stating that you’re worried they’ll fall.
“You’re too old to drive.” Start off with a different tone instead. “I’ve seen a lot of reckless driving on the roads lately, and I fear for your safety.”
“You don’t need a jacket today.” Older adults have difficulties adjusting to certain temperatures. Try to gently explain to them that it may be warmer out than they expect and help them choose more weather-appropriate attire.
“You’re always sick.” Allow them to vent about their health instead and try to distract them by talking about a pleasant memory or experience.
“You need to live somewhere else.” Instead, express your feelings of concern for their well-being.
“You’re repeating yourself.” They may interpret this as “you don’t want to hear what I have to say.” Instead, ask leading questions to elicit a different story.
“I can’t believe you missed that doctor’s appointment.” This could be due to an underlying concern. Maybe they didn’t want a specific medical result. Talk to them and see how they’re feeling.