How to Involve Your Parent in Care Decisions

Dear Kara:

My mother’s health has been steadily declining over the last few years. While she doesn’t have any life-limiting illnesses, she has a number of small health concerns. They have caused her to struggle with mobility and stamina. She is also a little bit confused at times.

We have gradually begun making many of the decisions related to her care. Our struggle is how to help her stay involved in these decisions without making her feel overwhelmed.

Do you have any suggestions that have worked with other families?

Kind Regards,

Denise

Keeping a Senior Involved in Decisions about Their Care

Dear Denise:

Don’t feel alone in your struggle. For many adult children, finding the balance between making decisions for a senior and empowering them to make their own choices can be a difficult one.

Our first suggestion is to be as transparent with your mom as you possibly can. For example, we’ve seen situations where families make a decision for a senior loved one without involving them at all. This scenario rarely goes well.

It is better to talk things through with your mom and ask her how she feels about necessary changes and decisions about her care. While you might not need to share every tiny detail with her, involving her will help her feel as though she is maintaining her independence.

When it comes to healthcare-related matters, you can ask her physician and other care providers to explain things to you and your mom using a 3-step process:

  • This is why we’re doing it

  • This is how we’re going to do it

  • This is what we believe the outcome is going to be

Finally, it might also help if you write down the next step in your mom’s care after each of her appointments in a notebook or on a calendar. Put it in a place she can easily find. That way she will feel as if she is aware of and involved in the care decisions being made on her behalf.

I hope this helps, Denise! If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call me directly. I will be happy to answer them and offer suggestions.

Kind Regards,

Kara Thomas, Social Worker