I was speaking to a client the other day who was quite frustrated with her elderly mother. She can see her mother is having a difficult time making decisions, but when she tries to help, her mother becomes upset. This then can lead to an argument that keeps them from talking for days. When they finally do start talking, there’s an awkwardness. This can then sometimes lead to another argument that ends up causing the relationship to suffer.
As I was talking to this particular client, I realized that it wasn’t exactly the advice the caregiver was giving that made her mother upset. It was the way she was giving that advice or help.
Once we discussed this, we were able to start discussing some better ways to approach giving help or advice.
Some of the approach we came up with were:
Suggestions vs. Commands
My client often gave advice by saying, “Don’t do it that way. Do it this way.” This immediately made her mother feel defensive, so she retaliated.
A better way to approach it is by saying, “You could do it this way.” or “The other day, I did it this way, and it helped.”
These suggestions will not make mother feel as though she is being given an order. They make her feel like she is getting ideas on how to do things better.
One of the concerns my client had was she doesn’t really talk with her mother anymore. All she really does is tell her what to do and how to do things. This lack of communication could be wearing on their relationship, which makes it sensitive when she does approach her mother with something that needs to be done.
By taking time to engage in conversations with her mother, she is able to not only build a stronger relationship with her, but can help her make better decisions. As her mother discusses what she has to do, she usually comes up with ideas with the help of her daughter.
Waiting to Be Needed
Another problem my client brought up was that her mother always seemed to push back when she tried to help. Even when she took her arm to help across an even part of the ground, her mother shook her arm free from her.
It’s good to understand that many elderly people do not want to feel as though they are completely dependent on others. They want to be able to do as much as they can independently, and then ask for assistance if they can’t do something.
It’s best to back off and just be there in case your help is needed, instead of imposing your help. This is what my client came up with as we were talking. After she did this, she found that it was much easier to help her mother when she needed it.
If you find yourself in the same situation as my client, you may want to try these tips. If they don’t seem to help, consider booking an appointment with me – personal consultant Kendall Van Blarcom. I am a senior helping seniors and their caregivers. I can help you have a better relationship with your aging parent, so you can both enjoy the time you spend together.