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The Key to Overcoming Your Parent’s Objection to Hiring a Caregiver

Hiring a caregiver is a difficult step for any family to take—even if your whole family is on board. But when there is resistance, the fallout can cause rifts in family relationships, a revoking of the decision and more. Find the key to overcoming your parent’s objection to hiring a professional caregiver with these four strategies:

Start with Compassion

From your point of view, you’re witnessing someone who cared for you suddenly become dependent on you. That’s a tough experience for many adult children. But what about your mom or dad who has been independent for decades? Suddenly needing support is a hard pill to swallow.

Put yourself in your parent’s shoes. Mom's perceived independence and control are at stake, so any threat to that independence or control will not be taken lightly. And something new is unknown, leading to questions like, " Will this caregiver respect my privacy? Will we get along? Will I ever be able to do things for myself again?

As you prepare for the conversation, start with compassion. Remember, this is not a “battle of wills.” If you feel like you're going into battle, it may be harder to hear what your parent is trying to say, and feelings on both sides will likely be hurt.

Recognize this is an emotionally charged issue for both of you.

Consider the Setting

Needing support at home—even for just a few hours a week—signals a major life transition. That said, the conversation about it must happen in person. If you are a long-distance caregiver, make it a priority to fly or drive home for a few days. The more you can do in advance of this transition to ensure its success, the better. A phone call to say, "Hi Mom, we've hired a professional caregiver, and she starts next week," will put your parent on the defensive and could make the caregiver's first day on the job her last.

Choose a day and time that works for both of you. Reserve an adequate amount of time too, because if you feel on edge, in a rush, or exhausted after a day’s work, you’re probably not going to be as patient or compassionate as you could be. If your parent is at his or her best in the late morning, do it then. If he or she goes to bed at 7 pm, don't choose 6 pm to start.

Where will you have this conversation? The answer depends on your loved one’s situation and preference. But choose a place that will be comfortable, and don’t make it feel like a business meeting. Where and when you meet will set the tone for how the conversation will flow.

Listen First, Speak Later

Your agenda is your parent’s well-being, of course, and you feel that’s best accomplished with a professional caregiver. You can envision the benefits of the arrangement. But your parent’s agenda is going to be different, and that’s to be expected. Don’t take it personally or see it as an attack on you and what you’re trying to do.

Give Mom an opportunity to voice concerns, fears and frustrations. Hear what she has to say first without jumping to give an answer or justification. Jot down her thoughts and questions. Make good eye contact throughout. Let her know you’re listening. And keep these notes, because they will be truly helpful for the professional care provider as he or she establishes a care plan.

When you feel your parent has finished expressing her opinions, start by addressing her concerns with “I hear what you’re saying,…” or “It sounds like you’re concerned about…” Remember, there are no wrong answers here. Then, share your concerns and how you feel a professional caregiver could address them, including ways you believe the right professional caregiver will enhance your parent’s independence, not take from it. Emphasize the importance of working together. Unity will be valuable in building the relationship with the caregiver and will foster a vital sense of control for your parent.

Let Your Parent Lead

As you move towards taking that first step together, give your parent as much control as possible and allow for active participation in the development and implementation of a care plan.

It’s crucial your parent feels safe and comfortable with the professional caregiver. A good relationship takes time to develop, so the first days, weeks and months are for trust-building, for getting to know each other and for expressing preferences. Check in often to gauge how your parent is handling the transition. Be patient with the process and ensure your parent’s voice is heard throughout it.

Control is ultimately the key. While both of you will be working with the professional caregiver on some level, your parent will be the recipient of care—and that’s a much more intimate connection.

Sometimes, it’s the rest of the family that is struggling with the decision to retain professional home care services. For more information on a consensus-building strategy, click here.

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