Powdered Butt Syndrome
Updated: May 16
It is occasionally difficult for aging parents to listen to their adult children's recommendations and suggestions. This may be the result of Powdered Butt Syndrome! Silly name, but trust us it is a real thing! Essentially, your parents raised you; they taught you, protected you, fed you, clothed you, and yes even powdered your butt when you needed it. They spent their lives leading, teaching, and protecting you and now they are older and have lost some of their independence. This may have your parents feeling vulnerable with limited (or no) control over their own lives.
When people feel vulnerable and out of control, they often seek to take some, or all, of that control back. A previously "easy going" person may reflexively say "no" to any number of reasonable requests. This vulnerability is often exacerbated when the older adult is needing physical and/or cognitive care and their adult children are their primary advocates. The children they raised, taught, and protected are now the ones they must listen to for their own protection and well-being. It's no wonder that our aging parents experience some complicated feelings and often do everything they can to hold onto their independence. Their focus on "independence" may result in poor decision making that jeopardizes their health, happiness, and finances.
Rarely is the parent/child bond stressed as much as when the adult child knows their parent needs to move to an assisted living or memory care facility and the parent won't consent to the move. Adult children can become exhausted trying to "prop-up" their ailing parent. This may create an increasingly unsafe situation for the aging parent and an unbelievable amount of stress for the adult child. Navigating these complex situations is not easy, but it is possible and there are resources to help.
Below are some strategies that have helped clients we have served. Please understand that every family/situation is unique and that these are examples of strategies that have been successful with other families. Please reach out to us to discuss your unique situation.
Choice vs Crisis - You want your parent to make a choice that is right for them. Not simply waiting for a crisis to dictate next steps and future living arrangements.
Empower them to make healthy decisions - when possible, limit the options you present to them by weeding out unhealthy options.
Avoid saying "no" - No one wants to be told "no" so try to honor as many of your parent's requests as possible.
If possible, don't rush to sell their home - Many of us will spend our adult lives saving for and investing in our home. If your parent's financial situation allows for it, consider holding onto the house for a while after they move into an Assisted Living or Memory Care Facility. They've spent a lifetime in their home, try not to be so quick in selling.
Ask thoughtful/heartfelt questions - for example "Dad, if something happened to you, how will Mom be cared for?" or "Mom, I don't want to see you get hurt, will you look at a couple of assisted livings so I can have some peace of mind?" or "What is your biggest fear about moving to an Assisted Living Facility?
Let someone else be the "bad guy" - Arrange for your parent to visit their doctor then call the doctor in advance and ask that she/he to discuss Assisted Living at the visit.
Acknowledge and address every concern they have - they might be worried that no one will visit them, they won't be allowed to leave the facility, that the food will be terrible, that they will be the youngest person living there, that they are scared to trust someone else with their care, etc....
Engage the help and support of an experienced Senior Living Advisor in your area. Clare Senior Advisors is ready to help you in Omaha, Elkhorn, Bellevue, La Vista, Papillion, Gretna, and Blair Nebraska as well as in Council Bluffs, IA.
Clare Senior Advisors only hires the most experienced Senior Advisors. In fact, Clare Senior Advisors requires every Senior Advisor to have a minimum of 10 years of Senior Living and/or Health experience. We would be honored to help you and your loved one find the right care for their unique needs.