Clashing over issues with a senior loved-one can be difficult when it feels like they aren’t listening to what you have to say.
When caring for a senior loved-one, there are always those moments in which disagreements occur about what is best moving forward in the pursuit of better health. As a caregiver, it can be a real challenge to feel as though the very logical and straightforward information you have been advised by medical professionals or research is being challenged by loved-ones who feel that they either can’t or don’t want to make the necessary changes in their lives. While it is undoubtedly important to listen respectfully to seniors about the choices they want to make about their own lives, there are some situations in which you might want to push a little harder to make them hear you out and make some changes if you think it will truly improve their chances of living a happy and comfortable life.
The following are some ideas of how to approach situations in which seniors aren’t initially willing to listen to your point of view about what might be best.
- Think About How Much It Matters: In the grand scheme of all the things that have to be taken care of and tended to when caring for a senior loved-one, there are big things and there are small things that don’t matter quite so much. Taking a little time to reflect on how much a particular issue actually matters can help in providing some perspective and knowing whether this is a battle worth having. Things that are a serious matter of health or safety are definitely worth the effort, but something that seems small and unimportant when compared to bigger issues might be something that is worth letting slide for the time being.
- Accept What Is: No matter how well-informed you are on a particular matter and how much you feel your position on an issue is the right one, it is important to always remember that your parents are grown-ups who have the right to make choices for themselves, even if the choices they make feel like bad ones sometimes. Accepting that there are some things that you can’t change, no matter how hard you want to, is important for your wellbeing as a caregiver.
- Try to Understand: When people are making choices or behaving in a way that doesn’t make a lot of sense to us, it can be helpful to take a step back and try to understand where they are coming from and what things we may have overlooked that are informing their point of view. An unwillingness to listen or follow advice can be rooted in a lot of different things, whether it be fear, a desire to hold on to independence, confusion, lack of understanding, or many other things. Instead of getting upset, it can be helpful to think through all of the barriers that are in place from every point of view and proceed with all of those things in mind.
- Create Perspective: For many seniors, it can be difficult to make adjustments that feel difficult, but as soon as they realize how their choices or behaviours are impacting those they care about, they often become more willing to explore all the options. Without being manipulative, it can be helpful to remind seniors that there are reasons outside of themselves to make the right choices. Whether it be for children, grandchildren, friends, or other important things and people in their lives, seniors may be more motivated to care for themselves and their health if it means being able to be more present for others.
- Take Care of Yourself: There are a lot of difficult aspects of caregiving, and not having a healthy outlet to express those things can cause problems. Having people in your life with whom you can express your frustration, and engaging in enriching and fulfilling activities that provide an outlet for self-expression when things all feel like a bit much can make a big difference in making sure that anger doesn’t come bursting out in a harmful way.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to dealing with difficult discussions, arguments, and moments in which seniors are unwilling to listen or follow advice. Every relationship is different, and sometimes there is nothing to be done, but it is always worth trying. Always remember to remain respectful of others and to take care of yourself throughout the process.