Are You Dealing with SSS (Stubborn Senior Syndrome)?
Are you struggling with making life decisions with a senior family member? Senior Home Transitions offers free assistance in finding Assisted Living, Personal Care or Memory Care assistance.
If you’ve never been faced with an aging loved one whose health and physical functioning has changed acutely, you should prepare yourself, not for the inevitable, but just in case! If you have dealt with it, you know how complicated it is to help seniors who are in denial of their own decline and suffer from Stubborn Senior Syndrome (SSS). At times, it will seem like you’re dealing with your teenager all over again, only you can’t send your parents to their room when they defy you!
To be fair, they’ve been making decisions for themselves their entire adult lives and it’s hard to turn over the reins to their kids. Yes, even if you are 60+ years old, you’re still just their kid. So what’s the magic bullet, other than the one you’d like to fire into your temple when they are simply not seeing reason? The magic bullet is this….there isn’t one. Such a let-down, I know!
But there is hope, according to experts at Senior Home Transitions, who offer free help in selecting the appropriate care for your loved ones. There’s two types of SSS. The first is just down right stubbornness. Born from a life long habit of independence that they are clinging to until their fingers are literally pried from the house railing. “I don’t need help” is the standard phrase. Even though they have family getting groceries, bringing meals, running errands, cleaning the house, transporting to appointments, filling medication planners, scheduling doctor visits, calling with reminders, and the list goes on. But they still think they’re independent. Maddening isn’t it! But we all fall into that codependent dance with our parents to aid them in their “alone and independent in the home” addiction.
The second type of SSS is more serious. The type born from onset of dementia. This only seems like stubbornness. The sad truth is they simply are not able to see reason, they no longer have the capacity. You ask, “Why do you think you can manage without help, you can’t even get groceries on your own?” The answer: “Look, I filled the refrigerator on my own, from the dumpster down the street” (an actual case, said by someone who could easily afford to buy food). It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t answer the real question, but it somehow makes sense to them. What is vitally important here is not to miss warning signs that something MUST BE DONE. Not eating, not taking meds properly, paranoia, getting lost, depression, increased confusion, wandering or difficulty performing normal tasks.
The hope is this: there are many organizations, associations, support groups and professionals who can help you navigate this craziness with your parents. In all seriousness, when dealing with parents who suffer from SSS and either need help in the home or need to transition to a senior community or memory care, compassion and patience are the two skills you will have to perfect while maintaining a respectful attitude. (I know, easy for me to say…but I’ve been through this over 500 times, it is possible!) You may also need to recruit others to help you like, neighbors, church friends, minister and other trusted, objective people in their life.
Ask your healthcare professional for recommendations. With a specific diagnosis, there will be a specific organization that can hone in on the perfect recommendation for you. If not, there are professionals who can assist with advice on where to start, and how to have these difficult conversations, with your difficult parents. You are not alone, they are not the only ones who suffer from SSS, and you both can get through this amicably and find an end result that satisfies everyone. So, take a deep breath, do a little research, ask your healthcare professional who you should talk to and take it one step at a time. It’s just another part of the journey.