My parents are 84 yrs. old and I live out of state.

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Spies. You need lots of cousins and neighbors who interact with them and will give you a heads up. You let their 911 know exactly how to reach you. You make sure you know the land line number for 911 so you can call them from out of state if you need to ask the PD to check their welfare. If they are church-going, ask their minister to stop by. Try to get online access to their bank accounts so you can watch over them, track their expenses, make sure their utilities and taxes are paid. Make personal contact with their MD and make sure he has your contact info in an emergency. Get a Health Care Proxy and DPOA, for "just in case". Make sure you know where the Will is and any deeds or titles. KNOW what their advanced directives are, what they want done or NOT done.
If you think things are really advanced, no food in the house, no clean clothes, no meds or wrong meds, dirt all over, you call their county social services and ask for a social worker to check their welfare. Safety first.
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Diannah, I have the same issue with my parents [92 and 96] who still live in their home.... I believe they still think in their mind that they are 30 years younger and can still do everything they did back then. And some parents are just too proud to want help. They feel they will make do no matter what is the situation.

As a therapist had told me.... my parents are allowed to make their own choices, and whatever choices they make, they will need to take responsibly for those choices. I have to keep remembering that.

I wanted so much for my parents to get out of their large home and into a retire community where they would have a really nice condo that would be more manageable.... Dad wouldn't need to worry about shoveling the drive way when it snowed, or worry about getting 20 bags of mulch for the yard.... he's getting too old to do that work now but refuses to believe so. And where my parents wouldn't be so bored like they are now. But I have to remember, that's their choice not to move.
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Persuading Our Stubborn Aging
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I recently attended a book signing event for my book, The Boomer’s Guide to Aging Parents. It’s my first book, and it was an exciting moment. I was afraid no one would show up, but the room quickly filled. I asked the people in the audience what brought them to this event to talk about aging loved ones. One told me about her parent in another state who is refusing a home care worker. They told me about having trouble convincing a parent to sign a health care directive. They talked a lot about how hard it is to persuade our aging parents to listen to us.
Does this remind you of anyone you know??
We talked about ways to convince our aging parents to come around to our way of thinking on things like basic safety. Universal nods. Many of us are
dealing with this very thing. Of course, any nurse knows about getting reluctant patients to take medication, get up and move, change their diets and that sort of thing. Nurses must be able to cajole, convince, coax and otherwise get people off their positions. Almost anyone can learn a few workable persuasion techniques. Here are my suggestions from yesterday’s talk with the audience, mostly middle aged females with a few guys thrown in, about how to talk our aging parents into doing something we want and they don’t.
Carolyn Rosenblatt Contributor
I write about healthy aging, and dealing with aging loved ones.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.6/19/2014 Persuading Our Stubborn Aging Parents - Forbes
forbes/sites/carolynrosenblatt/2010/09/27/persuading-our-stubborn-aging-parents/print/ 2/3
• First, pick your battles.
If your aging parent has a lifelong habit you don’t like, and it’s not getting in the way of safety, forget it. They don’t want to give up habits, even harmful
ones. Start with the big, scary-for-us things like Dad being unable to cook, not having enough food in the house since Mom died, or other basics that really do involve safety. Plan your strategy for “the talk”.
• Next, pick your best time, place and person to have “the talk” with your aging parent. The one who never got along with Dad may not be the best person to bring this up. Does Dad have a favorite? Ask her to do it. We have to choose any ally we can find including friends and those outside the family. Try the conversation during a time of day when Dad is most likely to be amenable, like after his favorite meal when he’s feeling full and happy.
I personally like to approach anything difficult with good food. When in doubt, eat!
• Use humor. If we can find a way to get our parent to smile or laugh at all, about anything, we’re a step ahead. When I worked as a nurse, I’d try out jokes on a patient. Like that his hospital gown was providing a world class view from behind. After I had the guy cracking up for a sec, I’d quickly take advantage of that moment and slip into the subject about which I wanted to convince him. Now it was time to get out of bed, even if it hurt and yes, you have to do it now. Sure fire tactic. The immediate “laughterglow” of sharing something a little funny is perfect for breaking down resistance.
• Always put the need for change on us, not on our parents. When we want our parent to make some kind of change, make it our problem and take all the blame. If we’re trying to get Mom to accept a home helper, think about pitching it as our need, not hers.
Here’s a sample:
“Mom, I’m such a worry wart, I can’t help myself. I’m losing sleep over you not getting enough good food in the house. Please help me. I need you to put my crazy mind at rest. Could I ask you to try a person out to come in and shop and cook for you a few times a week? I’ll help you find someone. Please, for me? I would feel so much better if you’d help me out. It’s just so hard for me and I’m frantic with this. I’m sorry to be such a pain.” You hereby have permission to exaggerate. Bribery is not out of the question either.
• Use the “yes-and” technique. This is something we mediators use all the time to redirect conversations. When someone disagrees with us, instead of saying, “ that’s not true, you nitwit”, we choose another response. We can acknowledge what our parent just said with the words, “Yes”, followed by “and” followed by whatever is the contrary thought. For example:
“I don’t need to sign a bunch of stupid legal papers now! I’ll worry about that when I get old!”
“Yes, and lots of people are getting these DPOA‘s (durable power of attorney) signed even when they’re young, like me. In fact, I need to do it, too.
I’d like to bring mine over and show you and maybe we can sign them together. What do you say?” Coaxing other people to do what we want them to do is nothing new. How many times did we coax kids into things? How about friendly persuasion with our spouses, partners, colleagues and our friends? It’s in us. The raw talent is in us. Maybe some people call this “role reversal”. We have to act like the parent to get the parent to stop acting like a stubborn kid. It happens. We all have to man up and lady up and just do this. If it’s uncomfortable to think about coaxing a parent to do anything that’s good for them (as we see it), we all just have to deal with the discomfort of their resistance and do it. There is no easy way to keep our parents safe if they’re stubborn about change. Lots of aging parents, spouses and other relatives we care for are that way. They don’t like change. It’s up to us to help them. No one else is going to do it. This does not work every time or for everything. Our parents can choose misery over help if they are determined enough, but we’ve got to try. Even if we fail at some things, it’s a lot easier to take if we know we tried our hardest to help them. No need to feel guilty if we gave it our all. So, let’s give this persuasion thing a try on something minor to start with, and just practice. And I’d love to hear how it goes.
See you later
Carolyn R.
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