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How do you help a loved one who doesn’t want help? We speak to many adult children who would like to see their elderly parents receive support. They know that it would provide a safer environment and would even prolong their ability to remain in their home. Sometimes, though, they run into resistance, as the help is not always welcomed. Today we’ll discuss this, and a list of a few helpful tips.

Welcome to The Senior Circle, where we hope to inspire and help others by providing valuable, relevant information related to caring for an elderly loved one. Hi, my name is Dawn Neely and I’ll be your host. Thank you for joining us.

Caring for the elderly can be challenging, particularly if a loved one doesn’t want the help. It’s important to try to understand what’s causing your loved one’s resistance and how you can encourage cooperation. One of the toughest challenges you can face when caring for the elderly is resistance to the care itself.

Our goal today is to hopefully help anyone dealing with this to maybe understand why resistance to care might develop, and explore some strategies for fostering the cooperation. If your loved one is in need of care, he or she is likely dealing with loss, physical loss, mental loss, the loss of a spouse or the loss of independence. Accepting help might mean relinquishing privacy and adjusting to new routines. As a result, your loved one might feel frightened and vulnerable, even angry, that he or she needs help, or guilty about the idea of becoming a burden to family and friends. In some cases, your loved one might be stubborn, have mental health concerns, or simply think it’s a sign of weakness to accept help. He or she might also be worried about the cost of certain types of care. Memory loss might also make it difficult for your loved one to understand why he or she needs the help.

So what’s the best way to approach a loved one about the need for care?

Sometimes the doctor will start a discussion with your loved one about their care needs. If you’re starting the conversation and you suspect that your loved one will be resistant to care, whether from family, other close contacts or a service, consider these tips.

  • Determine what help is needed. Make an honest assessment of what kind of help your loved one needs and which services might work out best.
  • Choose a time when you and your loved one are relaxed. This will make it easier for you and for your loved one to listen to each other and speak your minds.
  • Ask about your loved one’s preferences. Does your loved one have a preference about which family member or what type of service provides care? While you might not be able to meet all of your loved one’s wishes, It’s important to take them into consideration. If your loved one has trouble understanding you, simplify your explanations and the decisions you expect him or her to make.
  • Enlist the help of family members. Family and friends might be able to help you persuade your loved one to accept the help.
  • Don’t give up. If you’re loved one doesn’t want to discuss the topic the first time you bring it up, try again later.

When you find yourself facing a lot of resistance you could try a few different approaches to encourage cooperation.

  • You might suggest a trial run. Don’t ask your loved one to make a final decision about the kind of care he or she receives right away. A trial run will give a hesitant loved one a chance to test the waters a little bit and experience the benefits of assistance. Help them understand that they do not have to commit to anything long-term that will be unpleasant for them.
  • Describe the care in a positive way. Refer to respite care as an activity for your loved one, something that they’ll like. Talk about a home-care provider as a friend. You might also call elder care a club, or refer to your loved one as a volunteer or helper at the center that they go to.
  • Explain your needs. There are times that appealing to their hearts and their consideration for you really makes a difference. Consider asking your loved one to accept care to make your life a little easier. Remind them that sometimes you’ll both need to compromise on certain issues.
  • Address the cost. Your loved one might resist care out of concern about the cost. If your loved one’s care is covered by Medicaid or other funding, share that information to help ease his or her worries.
  • Pick your battles. Do your best to understand your loved one’s point of view, and focus on the big picture. I would suggest that you avoid fighting with your loved one about minor issues related to his or her care.

One thing that I would add about this is that these strategies might not be appropriate when dealing with a loved one who has dementia. Dementia makes it more difficult to process the information, and it really could cause more confusion and distress.

You might try all of these things and still have difficulty convincing them. What do you do then? If your loved one continues to resist care and is endangering himself or herself, enlist the help of a professional. Your loved one might be more willing to listen to the advice of a doctor, a lawyer or a care manager about the importance of receiving the care. Resistance isn’t uncommon, many care-givers face it. By keeping your loved one involved in the decisions about his or her care and explaining the benefits of assistance, you might be able to help your loved one feel more comfortable about accepting help.

If you feel helpless, or even fearful, that your efforts to convince your loved one to accept are not working, don’t struggle with the situation on your own. In the struggle to provide care for those that you love, remember to accept help and assistance for yourself as well. Talk to your family, friends and professional care services near you that can help. Always feel free to reach out to Seniors Helping Seniors for support or with questions that you have regarding your loved one’s care at 248.969.4000.

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