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When an Aging Parent Rejects Your Help

When an Aging Parent Rejects Your Help


“No thank you. I’m not going anywhere. Ever heard of ‘honor your father and mother’? Is this your idea of honoring me?” A fall had landed the elderly woman in the hospital with a broken hip, and she lashed out when her daughter told her she needed to move to an assisted-living facility.

Since 2011, 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day. According to Pew Research Center population projections, 18 percent of the population will be 65 or older by 2030. Caring for this growing older population can be challenging.

For the 43 million people who have provided care for a senior adult in the last six years, the challenge is a daily struggle. Many even cared for more than one person, all while raising families and working jobs.

In addition to the physical and emotional demands of caregiving, relationships with elderly relatives often include layers of brokenness. Many people navigate familial estrangement and mental illness as they organize meals and fill prescriptions. Ongoing care for an elderly family member can look like a disaster zone or a mission field—or both.

You will need thick skin and a large heart to care for a belligerent loved one.

Added to these typical stressors, what happens when Mom or Dad doesn’t want the help you offer? You will need thick skin and a large heart to care for a belligerent loved one. Here are 10 suggestions.

1. Employ an ounce of prevention.

Many times, conversations about assisted living, relinquishing car keys, or turning over bank accounts take place in the hospital after a bad fall or serious illness forces the discussion. Such medical crises will only make things harder. Instead, have conversations about your concerns for the well-being of your parent early, before any signs of dementia or frailty appear, and before hospitalization complicates an already daunting task.

2. Ask questions.

Giving your parent an ultimatum is probably doomed to fail. Instead, when possible, include her in the decision-making process. Don’t assume you know her fears and concerns—ask and learn before sharing yours. You might start with a simple open-ended question like, “How can I be praying for you?”

3. Don’t assume it’s dementia.

It can be tempting to dismiss a parent’s opinions or preferences because she is older. But don’t assume your mom has Alzheimer’s just because she disagrees with you concerning her care. Keep in mind there could be two people whose perspective is…



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