Apr 102012

That was how my aunt greeted me when I answered the phone this morning. (I used to get a lot of these calls in my home healthcare days also). My granny is 92 years old, still lives by herself, only quit driving in the last year, and her mind works pretty darn good. My aunt makes the same mistake a lot of caregivers make, trying to impose their will on their parent. It does not usually work.

Most people will tell you that they could not boss their parents around when they were kids, it did not work when they were teenagers and yet they think it will work now. As my daddy once told me after I yelled at him that he treated me like a kid, “You will always be my little girl.” You never really grow up in your parent’s eyes no matter how old you are.

Just because someone is older and needing assistance does not mean that they are not able to make decisions for themselves. It can be very frustrating when you feel they need help and they refuse. The tendency is to treat them as if they were the child and tell them what to do, especially if you are a parent. So what do you do?

You get someone else they will listen to, to talk to them. You are probably frustrated and your parent is probably at best annoyed with you. My grandma on the other side of my family would not listen to any of her children or grandchildren. But her home healthcare nurse? Anything she said was law!

Offer them choices. “Do you want me to call the doctor and see what he thinks you should do?” Let your parent make the decisions they can make. Explain what needs to be done and why. Sometimes you may just have to let it rest for a while and let it be their idea.

If it is a truly serious situation and they are still refusing help, call 911 and request an ambulance. They come in wearing their uniforms and stretcher and equipment looking all professional and it really can make a difference. You might consider asking your parent, “How about I call the paramedics? They can check you out and see what they think.” This will usually get their attention.

The best thing to do is treat your parents with respect and dignity. Allow them as much independence as possible. Do not fuss and nag them. And remember, you children are watching you. Chances are, they will treat you the same way you treat your parents.

I realize there are those people out there who are going to refuse no matter what you do. In that case, you have to remember that they have the same right to refuse care just like you do.

What became of Granny? I called the doctor’s office knowing it was Monday and he would have a packed office but they told me to bring here in, he could get to her faster. He gave her a couple of shots, sent her for tests and sent her home.

Use your resources.


  18 Responses to ““Mama Won’t Go to the Hospital””

  1. Such a great point about how you can’t boss your parents around. I had never thought of it that way. Great post!

    Cherie Miranda
    Meditation for Memory Improvement

  2. This is not something that I have ever thought of and that is what I will do with my parents when they get older.
    Scott Sylvan Bell
    Body language of rolled sleeves
    Now go implement!

  3. Suzanne, there’s a lot of really useful information in this post.
    I particularly liked your advice to treat elderly people with respect and dignity – so important, but sometimes difficult when you’re under stress.

    Ecofriendly lifestyle means eating food in season

  4. When one’s parents start acting childish, it is difficult to refrain from treating them as children. Your ideas here are priceless.
    Sonya Lenzo

  5. Suzanne,
    you are right on the spot. I have witnessed many friends, who are or used to be caregivers, bossing around their patients (usually parents or spouses). This rude attitude makes the parents feel helpless and desperate. From this point fear arises, and then the agressive behavior shows up. We all need to respect the other, because sick or not, noone is more human being than the other.
    Thank you.

  6. I like the idea of using an authority figure to help convince them to get help or let you get help for them.

    Thorne Smith Blog

  7. You got me thinking, I don’t nkow how I will do with my parents in the future…I think I would like to have a conversation with them to be prepared!

    Hipnosis Barcelona

  8. I really think you gave amazing advice about having your parents make their own decisions. They aren’t children, after all!

    Mark Hogan

  9. It’s funny taht no matter how old you are, to your parents you are always the child…I can see that in my future as well.

    Sales Expert

  10. Hi Suzanne,

    WOW, how true is this?!? My Grandmother lived on her own until the very end ( 94 years young ) and GOD FORBID if ANYONE told her what she should or should not do, yet, that didn’t stop my aunt from trying – went over as well as a lead balloon. I get the idea that we want to be “helpful”, but in our “wanting to be helpful” we are robbing their independence.

    To a Successful Life, Neil
    Successful Life – Questions

  11. Fantastic Idea.

    Looking forward to learning how you will manifest it.

    I know you will excel; as you normally do in such matters.

    Supporting your goal achievement … Lyle

  12. I have a couple of friends who are firefighters in our area. They have told me that when you call 911 that you should ask for the fire department to come out. If you call 911 and ask for an ambulance (at least in our area) the operator will send out a “private” ambulance company. A private ambulance company can give you a bill of $500 just for driving out to your house (even if they don’t do anything for you). This is a bill that may or may not be covered by your insurance.

    Yours In Health!

    G.E. Moon II

  13. I hear these stories and hope it doesn’t happen to me and my parents. I hope that we will be able to communicate enough to get things done.

    Yours In Health!

    Dr. Wendy

  14. Yes yes children and parents learn to push each others buttons from the time of birth.

    Great advice!

  15. Hi Suzanne,
    Such vital information! I wish I had access to this website when I was caring for my parents!
    Looking forward to tomorrow!
    Can You be trained to care for the Caregiver?

  16. Hi Suzanne,

    I’m sure it varies by municipality to have emergency services come out. I particularly like how you point out that the decision is ultimately that of the person whose health it is. It confers respect and dignity to each of us to do so, no matter what our age and what the relationship is.

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Singles Workshops Los Angeles

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