How to Persuade Your Older Parents to Take Their Health Seriously
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As your parents get older, there is a significant chance they become more stubborn and set in their ways. They have lived a long, storied life, and they know what’s best for them, or at least that’s what they believe, anyway.
This is not always the case, though, especially when it comes to their health. Many adult children will talk about how it is almost impossible to convince their parents to go for a simple checkup, let alone more severe health issues. So what can you do to make them take their health more seriously? Here are some ideas that will help you approach your parents.
Don’t Force Anything
It doesn’t matter how old you are, no one likes being forced to do something they don’t want to do. This is something many children encounter when convincing their parents to think about their health and take it seriously.
The more you try to force things, the more stubborn they will become. So, instead of giving them ultimatums and getting frustrated, you should gently approach the subject, at least at first. Your parents won’t want to feel attacked, as this will make them more resistant to what you have to say.
Show Them It Doesn’t Just Affect Them
Your parents might exhibit tunnel vision regarding their health, which is understandable. Getting old and not being as capable as you once were can be difficult to cope with and rationalize, which makes them avoid facing the reality of aging.
But, this attitude also means that they are only thinking about how it affects them, which is never the case. Their health issues can also impact you, your siblings, and your grandchildren. They might not want to think about their health issues for themselves, but they should be convinced if you contextualize it with how others are affected.
Recognize Their Reasoning
Recognizing your parents’ reasoning for stubbornness will go a long way towards finding the right approach. However, this isn’t something you should assume. Instead, you need to speak to them about it without getting into a disagreement.
If your parents show signs of health problems, whether a persistent cough or vision issues, sit down with them and talk about it. Often, this is all you need to get their perspective and it allows you to approach more serious discussions better when the time comes.
Pick Your Battles Wisely
Picking your battles is important no matter who you are. You don’t want to spend your entire time arguing over things that your parents won’t change their minds about. But, you can encourage them to do things that are perhaps less intimidating.
Getting checked out for something that might require surgery is a terrifying thing, and anyone would be reluctant to do that in case they get bad news. But, a simple hearing evaluation is not as scary, so this could be an important first step to get your parents comfortable with taking their health seriously.
Remember They Are Adults
There will come a time in your life where the dynamic between you and your parents shifts ever so slightly. As you get older and learn more, you become more confident in what you know and how you feel.
This could affect the way you speak to your parents, especially with issues you’re familiar with. But, even if you think you know everything there is to know, you shouldn’t treat them like children. Remember how frustrating this was for you, even in your late teens and early twenties? It won’t do any good, so speak to them like the adults they are.
You shouldn’t have to fight these battles by yourself, so getting support from your siblings can do wonders, as it gives your parents a second opinion about health problems.
However, sibling rivalry can get in the way of this. Your siblings might not want to face the reality of your parent’s health issues, so they’ll avoid the confrontation. They might even think you’re overreacting. If this is a possibility, you’ll need to find ways that ensure they will support you.
Don’t Blame Yourself
If you see your parents being lackadaisical (to say the least) with their health, it can be easy to blame yourself for not being firm enough. This is not the right approach, though, and it can make you worry more than you should.
You can’t stop your parents from doing what they want, but you can offer advice to improve their well-being. You don’t need to get involved, but you can keep a close eye on them, so you’re ready to act if you are required.
Make Them a Part of Your Future
It’s crucial to stay in touch with your elderly parents to ensure they feel connected to the family and don’t go through the isolation and loneliness that would otherwise affect their mental and physical well-being.
Including your parents in your future plans could give them the incentive they need to take their health more seriously. It can sound like fear-mongering, but it is an approach that works. If your parents have health issues, they might take steps to overcome these if it means being able to spend precious time with their family.
Show Them Different Options
Many elderly parents believe that their health issues mean they need to move into a care facility, but this isn’t always true. Their fears about leaving their home could be what is causing their stubbornness. So you can show them the range of options available to change their mind.
Some parents will need 24-hour care, but others can stay at home with a live-in carer. They can also enjoy visits that provide company and care, which might be all your parents want.
Your parents will always think they know what’s best for themselves, and perhaps they are right. However, it’s still important that you and your siblings look out for their health as much as possible. You can’t force them to do anything they don’t want to do, but you can still find ways to encourage them to think about the big picture which could identify problems early and ensure you’ve still got plenty of years left with them.
*This article is based on personal suggestions and/or experiences and is for informational purposes only. This should not be used as professional advice. Please consult a professional where applicable.