Getting an elderly person to accept that they need help when the abilities they've relied on throughout a long life are diminishing can be difficult for you and the elder you're caring for. The tips in the following list provide guidelines for easing your elder into acceptance of a new role:

  • Approach gently and be understanding, but express your concerns firmly.

  • Don't tell your elder there's a problem; ask whether he thinks there may be a problem.

  • Before suggesting outside help, familiarize yourself with community services.

  • Offer help, but don't take over.

  • Back off when you meet resistance and try again another day.

  • Have a respected doctor, clergy, trusted friend, or relative suggest help.

  • Explain how assistance increases independence.

  • Never introduce a professional caregiver as someone who "will take care of you."

  • Ask your elder's opinion about how best to handle the situation.

  • Make sure that your elder is well rested and well fed before presenting plans for help.

  • When your elder's perceptions of his or abilities don't match your perceptions, resist the urge to contradict.

  • Offer assistance in an off-handed, humorous, and casual manner.