Words are marvelous things. You say your dad is stubborn to refuse the help provided by a cane. Dad says he is independent. The results can be the same—Dad risks a bad fall, your anxiety grows—but the words indicate vastly different views of the same issue. Convincing your stubborn father that he needs a cane begins not with words, but with some careful thought.
Before raging against the storm that is your father’s stubborn nature, put yourself in his shoes. He has been the provider, the rock, the bank and the sage for so many years, he may have difficulty giving up some of his titles and accepting help. Realize he is motivated not by stubbornness but fear:
- Fear of losing independence
- Fear of seeming weak
- Fear of losing mobility
Take a moment to think from your father’s perspective and ask yourself, what would have to happen for me to rely on a cane? The answer becomes obvious: he would have to suffer a fall that robbed him of independence, strength, and mobility.
If you come from a business background, think of the process like a sales effort. Dad is the client and you must “sell” the need for a cane. Use fear judiciously to create the challenge: risks, consequences, prognosis. Then provide relief to the challenge: Dad uses a cane and prevents all those risks.
Tap into resources to support your efforts to support your dad:
- Physical Therapist—the ideal person to recommend a cane to your father; impartial, professional, and trained to teach the correct adjustment and use of the assistive device
- The Centers for Disease Control—Tap into their statistics on falls among older adults to make Dad realize the risks he takes (falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults)
- The National Institutes of Health—Their Senior Health page has valuable tips on preventing falls
- The National Council on Aging—Print out their Six Steps to Reducing Falls for Dad. Go through all the items so that any one item does not become the focus of Dad’s argument
When you were a child, your parents soothed away fear and anger with love. Your stubborn father needs your love and clear thinking to counter his stubbornness. If you bully him, can you expect him to comply? Make certain Dad feels you have his best interests at heart and support him fully.
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