Our Team is proud to share a powerful talk by Allen Serfas, Co-founder & President of Assistance Home Care, “Approaching Your Aging Parents About Care”.

In this enlightening discussion, Allen delves into the challenging yet crucial conversation of discussing home care with aging parents, supporting their desire to age in place. Drawing from his personal and professional journey, he provides invaluable perspectives and advice on navigating this delicate topic.

Join us to learn how to approach this conversation with grace and empathy, ensuring your parents receive the support they need while preserving the integrity of your relationship. Watch now and empower yourself to navigate one’s parents journey of aging with confidence and compassion.

Approaching Your Aging Parents About Care

Allen Serfas, Co-founder & President of Assistance Home Care speaks at Tugboat Institute®.

Assistance Home Care has served over 5,000+ families in Greater St. Louis & Chicagoland area.

Connect with our Team today to learn more about how you can start the conversation about care for your aging loved ones.

Speaker Transcript:

Approaching Your Aging Parents About Care

So, we talk about the Seven Ps, and they truly connect all of us. But I think there’s an eighth P. It’s something that we worry about, and it’s very important to our businesses. It truly is our parents. We worry desperately, but I want to let everybody in on a little secret: it’s hard to watch our parents decline and be challenged in their home. But if you are waiting for the call from your parents saying, “Hey Mom and I need some help,” the secret is that call is never going to come. It’s never going to happen, and one of the reasons why it’s not going to happen is because our parents are way too private, filled with way too much pride, and let’s face it, they’re just too stubborn.

Allen’s Personal Experience With Talking About Care 

I want to share with you this picture. This picture means the world to me. It’s a picture of my in-laws. My mother-in-law, Geraldine, was able to stay at home for 5 years while battling Alzheimer’s disease. She was able to stay at home because of her husband, which I call Mr. Walker, and also because of my wife, Sally. My mother-in-law passed away in January of 2011. We actually started our company in her honor. My father-in-law was a man of very few words, but one thing he knew is he always wanted to stay at home. For him, moving was not an option. So, as the years went by, late in 2015, my father-in-law, it was just amazing to me, his mind was sharp as a tack, but his body began to decline, and it was tough seeing such a proud man struggle in his own home. And we were in the home care business. We knew how to handle this, right? We had multiple conversations with my father-in-law about how we could come in. We knew we could bring our team in. We could help him honor his wishes to stay right where he wanted to be. And multiple conversations, and at the end of every one of those conversations, the end result was always the same. My father-in-law, Mr. Walker, always said, “I don’t need any help. I don’t want any help.”

The last conversation we had with my father-in-law about receiving care in his home was at the side of his bed. He was all but bed-bound. He physically could not get out of bed by himself. We had a similar conversation about how we could help him, how our team could come in and provide great care and support. And at the end of that conversation, my father-in-law said the same words, “I don’t need any help. I don’t want any help.” You’d think we knew how to get this done, right? We’re in the industry. We failed.

Every Family Is Different, And That’s Okay

So, over the last 12 years, I have been blessed to walk into so many homes, thousands of homes, and one thing I see in every home is a picture, a portrait that looks something like this, just an amazing family. And you know what? There’s one common thing that exists. Every one of those family members knows exactly what Mom and Dad need. They know exactly, and they all have different opinions, but they all have an opinion.

Don’t Threaten or Give Ultimatums

So, I just want to take a step back. When we’re sitting down and we’re telling our parents what they need to do, I just want to stop and think about what that must be like for our parents. And I think it’s a lot similar to this, and I think if everybody just thought about what it would be like to have your children, whether they’re teenagers in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, telling you what you need to do and throwing out idle threats, “Hey, if you don’t do this, you can either do this or you’re going to move,” that’s pretty tough, right?

Tell Your Parents How You’re Feeling

So, one thing I would just ask is, when you’re thinking about having these conversations, instead of telling Mom or Dad what they need to do, tell them how you’re feeling. Tell them what’s going on in your life. And in some ways, this might be a part for you to embellish a little bit, but unfortunately, I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch. Let your parent know that you’re worried sick about them. You can’t focus on your job. You can’t focus on your company. You can’t focus. And again, let’s face it, you’re worried you’re going to lose your job because you’re only given 50-60%, and the team needs 110% right now. So, you’re worried about losing your job because you’re always focused on Mom or Dad. You’re always one call away from saying, “Hey, I’ve got to leave.”

The other thing is that when we think about this conversation, just slow down. Let them know that, you know what, hey, I have not been able to focus on my marriage. My marriage is on the rocks. Things aren’t going well because all I talk about and all I worry about, I’m spending all my time over with Mom and Dad. And as far as the kids’ sporting events, I haven’t been to one of my kids’ events in months. Dad, maybe you don’t need this help, maybe you’re okay, but I’m not. And I think it’s important that we stop and share with our parents how we’re feeling and what we need, right?

Supporting the Family Caregiver

When I think about walking into a home, there’s three people that I’m really focused in on. Number one, the person who needs the care, realistically probably the most easiest part. But there’s also a spouse in many cases, and from what I found, the aging spouse is just as frail, if not more frail and fragile than the person I’m coming in to provide care and support for. But there’s another person, it’s the family caregiver. Man, they are the glue. They are holding everything together, and they’re hurting. They’re really, really hurting.

I just want to take a second here for a public service announcement. Everybody, I always say it doesn’t matter if you have two kids in your family or ten, there’s typically one that’s doing the lion’s share of supporting Mom and Dad, and everybody in this room knows exactly who that person is in your family. And I would ask that before the end of today, make a phone call, write a letter, let that person [family caregiver] know how much you appreciate them and how thankful you are for them being so selfless and so dedicated, and offer your support, whether that’s financial support, whether that’s coming in for a weekend to take over and offer respite, whatever you can do. But do know when you offer that support, it’s going to be met with some resentment [from them]. They’re not going to be happy with you, and it’s going to be frustrating because they’re going to think like, “Where have you been? Where have you been this entire time?” But do know that that conversation, that note, that phone call will mean the world to that family caregiver. Also, if this conversation goes well, the door opens. If that door is closed, Dad can’t get help, Mom can’t get help, the family caregiver can’t help, so it’s really important. This conversation is so important.

In Closing

Again, just really simple, avoid telling your parents what they need to do. I will tell you, I’ve seen it thousands of times. It doesn’t work. It truly does not work. Instead, let them know how you’re feeling. Go really deep on it. And the other thing is, tell them what you need.

In my experience over the years, parents will not do a damn thing for themselves, but it’s amazing, there’s nothing they won’t do for their spouse and/or their children. And if we have these conversations, you can make a profound impact, and you can truly make it easy for your parents to accept the care and support that they truly need and deserve. Thank you.

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