It sometimes seems like many of our elderly loved ones become less easy going in their later years and maybe a little more stubborn.  And who can blame them?  They want things done a certain way, a way that makes them comfortable and that is familiar to them.  Maybe this stubbornness presents itself as an unwillingness to try a new restaurant or switch to a different doctor but when the stubbornness results in making decisions that are poor for their health or that interfere with them getting the best care, it may be time to step in and lend a hand. When dealing with a stubborn elderly loved one, keep in mind that this stubbornness may stem from somewhere else and is not likely directly aimed at making your life difficult.  Our elderly loved ones are often facing lots of scary things – like their own mortality, the loss of their independence or fear of being placed in a living facility and removed from their own comfortable home.

It may seem to them that they know best, and in certain cases that may be true.  But, as an objective and caring party on the outside looking in, you may know differently.  Now, how to convince your loved one that you are here to help and not take over their lives or their ability to make decisions for themselves?  Communication is key…and not just talking but listening! Listening to your loved ones may be the key to finding out what is bothering them and therefore making them act stubbornly.  It can also be helpful to pose questions to your loved ones so that they can be a part of the process of getting them the help or care that they need.  If, for example, you find out that their vision is deteriorating but they are refusing to get their eyes checked, ask them what you can do and what they can do to help make the situation better.  Making them an active part of their care may decrease their stubborn behavior because they are in control of what happens to them.  With you there to guide them in the right direction, of course!

It is also important to let your loved ones know that the decisions they are resisting don’t have to be final decisions.  Maybe part of their stubborn behavior stems from them thinking that once they give in, whatever is being addressed is set in stone.  Suggest that you all do a trial run of big decisions before they become final.  Knowing that they can go back or change their minds may decrease their resistance to receiving the help and care that they need.

Hopefully, your loved ones know that you only have their best interests at heart and let you become an active participant (along with them!) in their care.

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