It’s a problem that many people will face, observing their parents, or grandparents inevitably growing older and struggling with their mobility or in just trying to carry out their ordinary day to day tasks.
So the normal response to this is to obviously want to help and suggest products or services that could assist them, only to be met with a sometimes fierce resistance that immediately freezes out your well meaning ideas!
It could be that you have simply suggested a walking stick, or a can opener, or a kneeler for the gardening, it could be anything, and the response from your loved one is the same; a resounding NO THANKS, I CAN MANAGE!
The truth about this stubborn ‘planting of the feet’ is that few of us really want to admit we are struggling as we get older. Your relative is no different; in their mind they don’t see themselves as needing extra help! They associate your suggestions as unwanted interference as you bring them to confront their loss of some of their former independence.
The good news is that these struggles are often short in duration and common sense usually does prevail as your relative gets it that they needn’t struggle and you are not trying to consign them to the scrapheap!
So if you find yourself trying to suggest a mobility product to a relative and you know they are probably not going to like it, what can you do? How can you broach the subject in the first place and have a better chance of them accepting your offer of help?
The first step is to discuss with them the problem they are facing, for example; this could be that they are ‘not able to complete the housework how they would like to’. Make sure you fully understand the parts of a task that are creating the problem so you can make a good assessment of what could help as a minimum.
Next, try to discuss this with other family members, or a friend if that is a better option for you. Try to get a picture of what could help and then search for the best products that could really assist your relative.
Breaking the news!
In breaking the news, you will often find you get a much better response if you can approach it from a point of view of ‘benefits’ to them, rather than just dumping the next mobility aid on them!
So back to the housework example, you find there are some long handled brushes and dusters, so benefits could be:
- You can do ALL the housework yourself, you won’t need help
- Now you can reach without needing to strain
- You will complete your jobs much quicker
- It’s safer, no need to worry about accidents
Telling a relative you think they need help can be difficult and even armed with benefits they will understand you can still meet the same old resistance.
The referral method
A little psychology here, but it can have great results. This assumes you have found a great solution to your relative’s problem. The idea here is to actually buy and start using the product yourself (assuming it’s nothing major) then tell your relative how it has really helped you and tell them you will show them as you are so excited about how it has helped you. If easier, you can use another friend or family member, then refer the idea to your relative telling the story of how this product has really helped them
Your endorsement, or that of a relative of friend your loved one, can identify with can help get over that initial stubbornness and get your idea approved and accepted.
Trial it a week
Assuming the answer was NO, then another idea is to buy the product and simply leave it with them a week or so on the basis of casually saying, ‘well, it’s there if you need it.’
Often, after your loved one has struggled on for a while, they will eventually give your product a try out, even just out of curiosity, you simply leave it. Don’t ask, in fact if they don’t mention it again, neither do you. You can soon see if they have taken to it or not, often when people are left to it on their own, they come round to it when they are ready.
Be gentle but persistent
People are often unsure just how to manage the process of getting a loved one to accept a necessary change that needs to happen, and it can be distressing for family members to observe an unnecessary struggle.
At its smallest, this could be getting them to adjust to a new kitchen gadget, at its largest, getting them to admit their home is no longer manageable.
Sometimes things can go wrong as the new idea is introduced too quickly, and a ‘big event’ happens where in anticipation of resistance, family members gather and try to push the new initiative through to the person.
A much better approach here can be the gentle ‘bringing round to the idea’ approach where the subject is introduced gently over a longer period of time (assuming there is no acute need for immediate action).
The key here is persistence, but giving the relative time to adjust, think on the benefits and accept the situation for themselves, and effectively make their own decision.
Sometimes, even armed with the best strategies and intentions, you have that relative who just will not budge! (As the owner of the company, I had this very situation with my own family member!!) So we are not saying we do have all the answers and indeed would welcome any ideas readers have found to work for them, send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org We hope you will find the suggestions we have made useful and good luck! Remember, if you want advice or help in choosing mobility products based on your own specific needs we can help, call our knowledgeable team on 0800 567 7222. We look forward to hearing from you.