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7 Tips for When Aging Parents Won’t Listen

Growing up, our parents always instilled in us that we should listen to everything they tell us, but what happens when the roles are reversed and they refuse to listen to us? Being a family caregiver to your aging parents can be overwhelming and challenging. 77% of adult children believe their parents are stubborn when it comes to taking their advice or getting the help they need; so how can you overcome the situation?

  1. Treat them like the adults they are – While you may now be their legal guardian or caregiver, always remember they are not your children. Try to avoid yelling at them or scolding them as if they are in trouble. Your main focus should always be to reason with them and come to solutions or conclusions.
  2. Understand the motivation behind their behavior – Listening to understand is a lot more powerful than listening to respond. There may be reasoning behind their attitude or stern stance on a situation. Having meaningful conversations is of the utmost importance when dealing with an aging parent; your points of view don’t always need to be the same, it’s okay to agree to disagree sometimes.
  3. Determine how important the matter really is – Will the situation or topic matter in 5 minutes; 5 months; 5 years? If not, it’s probably best to not stress over it and maybe even let it go. Parents’ relationships with their children matter a great deal; if you can avoid an argument or not talking to each other for more than a week, you should.
  4. Think ahead – If you begin to sense a situation coming to its boiling point, map out the conversation that’s to come. Make mental notes of the points you want to make clear and be effective in your wording. Having a stubborn parent does not mean you need to silence yourself, it just means your point needs to be made loud and clear.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself – Always know that you’re doing the best that you can and whether your parents admit it or not, they appreciate the efforts you put into caring for them. You can’t expect yourself to have the answer or solution to every challenge that is brought your way. Putting your best foot forward and swallowing your own pride is sometimes all that can be done to remove or avoid any foreseen tension.
  6. Find an outside outlet for your feelings – While you may find yourself wanting to bottle up your emotions or frustrations inside, it is best to let them out occasionally. Although you don’t want to take frustrations out on your parent, look for other outlets that can help you better express your feelings. Try going for a run, yoga or meditation sessions, writing in a journal, exercise or boxing classes, or joining a caregiver support group; all are good and healthy alternatives to bottling up emotions.
  7. Accept the situation – No matter how hard or frustrating it can be, sometimes the situation won’t change. It is what it is – a phrase to live by. Stubbornness can take the best of us even when we don’t want it to. Understanding that your parents have more than likely had the same mentality their whole lives doesn’t leave much room for change. Pick your battles when you need to, but learn to not pick them too often.
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