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6 Ways to Work Around Someone Else's Denial About Needs for Assistance

Ease into a candid conversation about future care

4. Frame it as your problem. Make it clear that you don't want to tell them how to run their life, but you're genuinely worried about their health and well being: "I can't make decisions for you but it would make us all feel so much better if knew how you felt about these things. Can you humor me?" Talk in general about the future: "Mom, when you think about the next few years, where do you see yourself? What do you hope for — and what worries you?" Listen to what they have to say, and don't dismiss their ideas out of hand because you think you know better.

5. Go slowly. Just because your parents aren't as spry as they used to be doesn't mean they need to move to an assisted living facility ASAP. Without sounding judgmental or patronizing, calmly point out some of the things you've noticed: "Mom, Dad's really having trouble walking and I can see you're exhausted from taking care of him on top of everything else. What if I hired someone to come in every day to help you with the cleaning and laundry? Would that work for you? " She may only want help with bill paying or grocery shopping. Or perhaps some relatively inexpensive renovations — grab bars in the bathroom, widening doorways, installing wheelchair lifts or ramps — are all that's needed right now.

If you're concerned about medication mix-ups, you could say in a light-hearted tone, "Dad, you've got prescription bottles everywhere I look! Why don't I get you one of those pill organizers the next time I'm at the drug store? It will be so much easier to keep it all straight!" Check out watches with alarms that ring until the appropriate medication is taken, as well as phone apps to remind people to take their pills.

6. Bring in recruits. It's not easy to walk the fine line between empathizing with their concerns, and urging action. If you meet a lot of resistance, table the discussion and bring it up again in a few days. Ask a neutral third party — your parent's doctor, clergyman or an old friend — to join the conversation. Your parents may be more amenable to suggestions if they come from others. However, if you gang up on your parent, they may dig in deeper, or feel humiliated and ambushed. Be respectful. They have the right to refuse, and to make bad decisions. Just do whatever you can to give them your love and support.

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