It can be very difficult for  seniors to acknowledge that they need help with the business of life. If they come to the point where they need your help, they are confronted with their own limitations. And those limitations won’t “get better” in most cases.

So how do you help Mom or Dad without taking over?

  1. If possible, do the tasks alongside your mom rather than doing it for her. While this approach might take longer than doing it yourself, you allow Mom to retain some self esteem by letting her take the  lead.

  2. Let your dad tell you what aspects of a particular  activity he needs your help with, and if possible, try to limit your assistance to just those things, at least for now. Of course, if your dad doesn’t have a realistic picture of what he can do for himself, you will need to gently find a way to help him see your perspective.

  3. Be respectful, and ask permission before you just jump  in. For example, when you take your parents to a doctor’s appointment,  don’t just assume that they want you to come into the examining room with  them. Instead, ask them if they’d like you to be there the whole time, or  if perhaps you can just be called in toward the end of the visit to make  sure that YOUR questions are answered.

  4. Set up invisible safety nets. For example, if you come every Sunday and set up your mom’s medications in a weekly medication management system, you can have some expectation that she will take the correct medications at the right time. But it wouldn’t hurt to also have a way of checking that once or twice during the week. This might take the form of a medication management visit by a home care company or trusted  friend or relative or perhaps daily medication reminder phone calls from you.

  5. Make a distinction between safety and everything else.  When your dad’s safety is on the line, you might just have to take charge by taking over. On the other hand, if you’d just prefer that something be done a certain way or at a certain time, there might be an opportunity to loosen the grip a bit.