How do I get my father to realize he needs help caring for my mother?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 29, 2016
Steve111 asked...

My mother is not able to care for herself and my father is still somewhat capable to care for himself. My father is convinced that he doesn't need help with mom. I can see that he does. They are living with my sister in Idaho. He is being EXTREMELY STUBBORN and my 4 siblings and I are not sure how to handle the situation. Is there anyone who can help. Maybe someone who has been through this situation in their own life.

Expert Answers

Kay Paggi, GCM, LPC, CGC, MA, is in private practice as a geriatric care manager and is on the advisory board for the Emeritus Program at Richland College. She has worked with seniors for nearly 20 years as a licensed professional counselor, certified gerontological counselor, and certified geriatric care manager.

From my professional perspective, I believe that what older adults want most of all is for their lives to continue as they have lived them. Using that as a frame of reference, what you father is saying is that he does not WANT to need help with your mother. You and your siblings must find a way to make the necessary changes in his lifestyle acceptable to him.

One suggestion is to hold a family meeting. Hopefully all of you consider your parents' care important enough to manage to travel to one place, one time, to discuss options. Those sibs who don't have this as a priority in their lives can either participate via telephone conference, or lose their vote in their parents' care.

During this meeting the closest sibling, probably the one they live with, can present a list of problems that need solving, the kind of care your mother needs, transportation issues, costs, everything. All of together can then brainstorm about how to solve the issues. Decide on a time table for getting things solved, who is going to take responsibility for what, how things will be paid for, and future care after one parent dies. You may have your parents present at this meeting, or perhaps at a follow up meeting to discuss the plan.

Remember it is their lives and they should have some input. However, they cannot be the decision makers because their care involves the lives of all their children. Solutions need to be found that are acceptable for ALL of you, not just the parents. Even thought they do not want change, and they most certainly do not want to become needy, that will continue to happen. Being proactive with solutions is far better than reacting to a crisis that has been ignored in the early stages.

You actually have the power, even though you may not recognize it. Be kind.