Telling your aging parent that they need extra help getting around or that they need to change their lifestyle can be extremely difficult to do. After all, who wants to hear that they’re not as young as they once were, or that their safety is in danger? However, it could be one of the most important conversations that you have with your parents, because it’s absolutely necessary for their safety and life longevity as a whole.
With the right mobility equipment, your parents can have a happy and healthy life at home, and you can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing they’re moving safely throughout their home. Having a conversation about adapting their home (or day-to-day life) to meet their changing needs is challenging, but Able Care Group is here to help. Get tips on how to have these conversations, and contact us for wheelchair ramp, stairlift, chairlift, and elevator installations in New Jersey and New York.
Step 1: Identify the problem.
Where is your parents’ mobility challenges stemming from, and where are the challenges most present? Are they recovering from a recent illness or injury that’s left them struggling to get from the first floor to the second? Have they reached a point where the front steps are a complete obstacle? Take the role of an observer (while also providing help as needed) to identify and narrow down the issue at hand.
Step 2: Think about a solution.
A wheelchair ramp isn’t a great idea for inside your parents’ home, but it could work wonders for getting out the front door. A stairlift wouldn’t be all that helpful for someone using a wheelchair (because it wouldn’t transport their wheelchair), but an elevator or an elevated platform lift would be highly beneficial. Come into the discussion with your parents with an idea of how the problem could be fixed — but still be open-minded to what they have to say.
Step 3: Ask your parent(s) what they think.
A conversation can feel very one-sided and out of someone’s control if the person initiating things takes the “I’m right, you’re wrong” approach. Saying things like “You can’t get up the stairs, what’s going on?” or “You can’t just walk up and down the steps anymore” feels negative, accusatory, and can easily lead someone to shutting down or getting angry.
Instead, approach the conversation in the form of a question. Asking for someone’s opinion or insight is incredibly more valuable and empathetic. Frame the conversation with your parents in a positive way by saying things like “How have those stairs been treating you since your surgery?” or even “It seems like maybe you’ve been a bit timid when walking down the back porch steps, but what do you think? Would it help you to have some added support back there?”
Step 4: Respond with empathy.
If you start the conversation with empathy, there’s a good chance it will continue in an open and honest way. However, there’s still a chance that your parents could become upset. Put yourself in their shoes, and try to understand where they’re coming from. The anger or frustration or tears likely isn’t because of you, but because they’re facing some scary times. No one wants to hear reminders that they are getting older, and that they need help. This is an understandably sensitive topic, and even if your loved one responds negatively, it’s up to you to hold your ground in a calm and positive way — and to fully try to understand where they’re coming from.
Here are some things to try saying if the conversation begins to spiral in a different direction:
- “I get why you’re upset. I’m not trying to scare you, but I understand this can feel really scary.”
- “I care about you so much, and your safety means everything to me. The last thing I’d want is something to happen to you, and then you having to deal with weeks or months of recovery, when it could be prevented in the first place.”
- “This has nothing to do with how strong you are as a person. Even though your body is changing, you are still you, and this is just one of those not-great parts of life. But I’m here for you.”
- “It seems like you’re upset, which I understand. Let’s take a break from this conversation and discuss it in the future.”
The last point might be one of the most important. While you might have already had plenty of time to process this conversation, your parents probably didn’t. It’s important to respect their need for thought and consideration to what can be a pretty heavy topic.
Step 5: Call Able Care Group.
When you and your parent and/or family are on the same page, it’s time to put some mobility solutions in action. Our team can help. We’re highly trained with years of experience for installing wheelchair ramps, stairlifts, chairlifts, platform lifts, and so much more.
Not sure what your parent needs, but are pretty sure they need some form of mobility assistance? Give us a call for a free consultation! Want to make sure the measurements for what you’re planning are up to snuff? Contact us for a thorough job, even before we begin the installation process. Ready to begin and just need to set a date? We’re excited to hear from you. Serving homes and businesses throughout New Jersey and New York, we are Able Care Group, and we are here to help.