It can be difficult to decide on the best ways to help your aging parents. This dilemma faces so many family caregivers every day! Does this readers’ question sound familiar?
“My sisters and I have been taking care of our aging parents who are in their late 80’s. They live in their home and said they won’t leave until they die. BUT my mother won’t let us hire paid help. What shall we do?”
I have been in your position. My dad didn’t want to hire help either. Even if your parents say they don’t want to be a burden, they would probably always choose you to help them over paid care. Put yourself in their shoes–it probably is a bit daunting to have someone they don’t know doing services for them.
It may help if you can get to the heart of your parents’ concerns. Perhaps you think they don’t see how dirty things are, or maybe you think they are concerned about the cost. One day while scrubbing my own father’s bathroom, he told me, “I’ll pay you forty dollars an hour to do that.” It dawned on me is wasn’t lack of understanding or concern for money that bothered him. He was just reluctant to have strangers in his personal space.
You and your sisters also need to validate your parent’s feelings by letting them know that you endorse their hope of staying in their home. It may also be necessary to re-assure them that paid help will not substitute for the visits they count on from you.
Your aging parents need to understand that it is impractical to think that you can do it all while taking care of your own responsibilities. You and your sisters should get together and review the tasks you currently do, the ones you no longer wish to do and the ones that are simply not getting done. Sit your parents down and go over this list together.
Suggest a compromise that shifts some of the burden, to start. Perhaps you can get your parents to agree to once-a-week housecleaning and grocery shopping while you and your sisters continue to take them to appointments. Or like my dad, who was willing to accept transportation assistance but needed to ease into the idea of strangers in the house.