Helping When She Doesn’t Want Help.
Today we’re going to talk about the situation where your Mom or Dad is declining in physical or cognitive health and obviously need some assistance. Since you know them better than anyone, you offer to help.
You would think that your parent would jump for joy and be very grateful for the offer, but what if the opposite happens. For example, what about a situation where Dad has Alzheimer’ and Mom is trying to provide all of the care. You are worried about her and offer to help. What if she says “No!”
Your Offer to Help can cause Fear of Losing Independence
You know that your Mom is independent and thinks that she has everything under control. But why would she refuse your offer of help? There may be a number of reasons for her to have that attitude. What if Mom has early undiagnosed dementia or Alzheimer’s? If this is the case, she may think that there’s nothing wrong despite evidence to the contrary. Your intuitive side may think that you need to “explain it” to her, but this is not a place where logic works. There’s no point to argue.
Fear of Change
In other situations, Alzheimer’s or dementia is not the issue. It’s obvious that Mom & Dad are declining. Mom is aware that there is something wrong, but she may be afraid. She may fear that if she admits her need for help, that you may send her to a Nursing Home or step in and impose life changes that she doesn’t want. Some have seen this happen with their friends, so they won’t admit that they need help when they obviously do.
If Mom feels threatened, she may prefer to continue to try to take care of things herself, even though she knows that she is in over her head. In some cases, she may be jeopardizing her own health and the health of your Dad by insisting on doing everything herself. She might take out her frustrations or insecurities on you by ignoring your calls, digging her heels in, or acting aggressively.
A case where patience paid off…
We have a friend whose Mom had fallen on multiple occasions. He and all of his siblings lived out of state. Mom still lived on the farm and had always valued her independence. Her husband had died several years prior to this time but she took pride in doing everything herself.
Unfortunately, his Mom’s falls were getting worse. The last few falls required hospital stays. Each time Mom fell, all of the siblings would drive in to check on Mom and each time would have the same conversation with her. They were all worried and tried to get their Mom to (1) bring in outside assistance; or (2) move closer to any of the kids; or (3) move to an Assisted Living Facility. They struck out on the conversation every time. Finally they succeeded on the 8th visit. She finally agreed to sell the farm. Fortunately my friend didn’t give up easily. His creativity, persistence, and patience finally paid off.
Specific offers of help
In some cases substantial help is needed – and needed now. Mom or Dad may need in-home caregivers or even facility care. However, in other situations, only a little help is needed. In some situations, the family may coordinate their schedules so that various family members can “drop by” more frequently than they have in the past. Some family members can pick up the groceries and pharmaceuticals. Others can stop by to help prepare and share meals with their parents. While there they can help with a few of the obviously undone tasks.
Sometimes small specific offers to provide help in one or two areas where Mom is really struggling may be accepted quicker than an offer to just “bring someone in to help.”
- A cleaning service really lifts the burden of keeping the house manageable. They can do the things Mom can’t (or forgets) to do.
- Check your local Senior citizens center for information for services that offer home-delivered meals. This will ensure that Mom gets at least one hot, balanced meal a day.
- Tech devices such as medication reminders or communication pads can allow the kids to virtually check in more often.
Neutralize the Threat
The key here is to present your offer of help in a very non-threatening way. This may be impossible to accomplish in one or two conversations. It may take a few phone conversations and personal visits to warm Mom up to the idea of accepting assistance of any kind. But small specific offers are a good way to broach the subject and get some outside assistance where it is really needed.
We work with people to do various types of estate planning. There is no one size fits all plan and no plan is categorically better than others. The key is to meet with your attorney (hopefully us!) to discuss your unique situation and have a plan crafted that is best for you. If you or your declining parent does not yet have a Power of Attorney in place, please be proactive and give us a call before you (or they) lose capacity.
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Without a properly flexible plan, how will you care for your Loved One, be there for your family, get work done, and pivot in the event of a crisis? What about cost? How will you pay for it all? If you make the Assisted Living Facility choice, how long will the money last? Together we can craft a proactive plan and get you started protecting your assets!
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We have covered some legal topics in this edition and as always, I want to emphasize that (1) the law is different in every state, so if you live in a state other than Arkansas, just know that the law may be totally different in your state; (2) your situation is unique, so one size doesn’t fit all – meaning what we discuss herein may not be right for you; (3) we have purposely over-simplified many of the topics above (otherwise this would be many pages long and unreadable because of all of the legalize). It is imperative that you meet with your attorney (hopefully us!) and get a plan that will work for you. Please don’t attempt DIY Estate Planning based on what you read in this (or any) article AND don’t try to go it alone. Please consider this, get your questions answered and take action.