Gabriel Lalonde
June 23, 2021

When Aging Parents Won’t Listen

As parents get older, your role in their life changes. And that can bring some challenges!

When you were growing up, your parents made all the decisions. They provided for you, helped you with homework, and did the things you weren’t able to do for yourself. They were in charge. And they tried to help you make good decisions for your life.

But as time passes, roles reverse. You may need to start helping your parents make good decisions. And they may not always welcome your advice.

To make matters worse, people tend to become more set in their ways as they get older. They dig in their heels. When they get an idea in their head, they just won’t give up on it.

Maybe your 90-year-old dad thinks he can remove a dead tree branch that’s hanging over the roof of the garage … even though he has trouble with his balance. Or maybe your parents are still driving, but their vision isn’t that good anymore. Or perhaps they think it’s a good idea to invest all their life savings into gold or bullets.

That can lead to some tense moments.

On the one hand, you want your parents to have the dignity of making their own decisions. But you also don’t want them to get hurt because of a bad choice.

So, what can you do when your aging parents won’t listen to you?

Here are a few tips that can help.

1) Try to understand their thinking. Their thought process may not make sense to you … but it seems perfectly reasonable to them. Listen to why they think the idea is valid. Have them explain it to you. You may still disagree with them, but at least you will know why they think it’s a good idea.

2) Try to see the situation objectively. Take your emotions out of it and determine if there is a serious and imminent risk. Is there a real chance of harm to your parents or other people? Or are you being over-protective? Sometimes, the risk is real. Other times, things just look scary from across the province.

3) Understand that your parents are entitled to make their own decisions (and mistakes). Everyone wants the freedom to make their own choices. Your parents have earned the right to do that. This may not be easy, but you’d want the same for yourself.

4) Go easy on yourself. You want the best for your parents, but that doesn’t mean you can fix everything. If you keep the communication lines open, they’ll be more likely to come to you when they need help. And that’s what you really want them to do.

5) Know when to draw the line. This point is very important. If you are questioning your parent’s capacity to care for themselves, you may have to explore legal incapacity. You should know that this is a long and difficult process. It is an option of last resort, and you will need the help of an experienced attorney.

Your relationship with your parents will determine how much they listen to you. Show them you care about their point of view. Listen to their desires and concerns. Choose your battles. And remember that your influence and ability to help are much greater when you stay in conversation with them.

Finally, invest time in building a team of professionals that your parents trust as their advisors. Sometimes, they just need to hear it from someone who isn’t an immediate family member!

Any crazy stories of parents insisting on having things their way? Think of your favorite Ottawa Financial Planner – We’d love to hear it. Contact us.

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