As much as seniors want to remain independent and stay in their own homes as they age, health and cognitive issues oftentimes make it difficult to cope with day-to-day living. The elderly need help in order to maintain a safe and comfortable lifestyle.
While some seniors readily accept assistance, many others are resistant to getting help – especially if it is not provided by a family member. Even if it is undeniably clear that they need extra care at home, the elderly may still deny it and be adamantly opposed to the idea of hiring a caregiver.
How can you help, then? What do you do when an elderly parent refuses needed care? Is there a way to help them accept assistance?
To overcome resistance to care, you need to understand why your senior loved one is refusing help and convince them of the benefits of in-home care.
What Causes Resistance to Care?
Before you try to persuade your elderly parent that hiring home care is for their best, you need to find the underlying reason why they’re reluctant to accept assistance. Once you have a better understanding of how they feel, you can develop a care plan that aligns with, not against, them.
Have in mind that any issues that touch on people’s self-worth and autonomy are prone to trigger emotional responses. To the elderly, admitting the need for help means that they’re incapable of taking care of themselves, that they’re good for nothing and have become a burden to their loved ones. This may cause them to feel sad and guilty, frightened and vulnerable, and even angry that they need help.
A senior might also fear the loss of their independence or the forthcoming change in their lives. In some cases, they may be worried about the cost of home care or may simply think it’s a sign of weakness to accept help.
So, when a senior loved one says an unequivocal “no” to elder care, they’re usually reacting to some basic fear or another strong emotion:
- Hurt and anger with their family members – Going for outside help may suggest to the elderly that their family doesn’t want to take care of them;
- Sadness and anger at their declining health – An increased need for help implies reduced functionality and worsening physical or mental condition. A senior may feel sad and depressed – or even angry – that their abilities are diminishing and they cannot do things the same way as before;
- Fear of loss of independence – Accepting help means relinquishing privacy and losing control over one’s own life;
- Fear of change – Having a caregiver in the home involves adjusting to new routines and changing established practices – which is quite detestable (and even scary) to the elderly, especially those struggling with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia;
- Fear of strangers – It is only natural to feel uneasy and apprehensive about allowing a complete stranger in one’s home and one’s life.
Whatever the particular reason why your elderly parent refuses care, it’s crucial that you empathize with them and validate their emotions. If you understand how they feel, it will give you an insight of how to approach the conversation about getting the help they need.
How to Approach Seniors Who Resist Care?
Discussions of in-home assistance should be approached with patience and compassion.
1) Explain why outside care is needed
Broach the subject of hiring a caregiver delicately and diplomatically and do everything possible to make your elderly parent feel comfortable with this new arrangement:
- Mention your increasing concern for your parent’s safety and well-being at several separate times before bringing up the idea of hiring professional help;
- Align with your senior loved one against whatever it is that’s challenging them and state your desire to help them as much as possible;
- Tell your elderly parent how much you worry about them, how frustrated you are that you can’t be always there for them, and how much better you’d feel if you knew there was someone who could provide them with qualified care whenever needed;
- Let your loved one know how stressed and overwhelmed you are – honestly state the impact that caring for them has on you (your own family, your work, and your health);
- Assure your parent that you’ll always be their primary caregiver, but you need help. They will find it easier to accept outside care if they’re doing it to make your life a little easier;
- Make it clear that a professional caregiver will assist both of you;
- Be sure to describe senior care in a positive way – refer to it as an experience your parent is certain to like and talk about an in-home caregiver as a friend;
- Point out the numerous benefits of home care – excellent care, continuous support, friendly companionship, peace of mind, etc.
- Emphasize that home care will enable your parent to remain independent and continue living safely in their own home.
2) Choose the right moment to discuss in-home care
Proper timing is crucial for making progress with your elderly loved one:
- Broach the subject of hiring a caregiver at a time when you and your parent are calm and relaxed, so it’s easier for you to listen to each other and speak your minds;
- Keep the atmosphere light and cheerful and make the conversation constructive and supportive. Make sure your loved one does not feel that they’re being cornered or forced to accept something they’re not ready for;
- Start the conversation by discussing what your parent can actually still do, then talk about areas where they might need help, and suggest getting assistance.
Don’t get disheartened if your loved one gets upset and responds with an adamant “no” – give them some time to think about it and get used to the idea and bring the topic back at another appropriate moment.
3) Enlist the help of trusted professionals, friends, and other family members
Instead of suggesting professional care to your loved one yourself, have a trusted third party do so – it could be your parent’s primary care physician, geriatric care manager, lawyer, priest, etc. Professionals who are respected by the senior can provide a lot of support, encouragement, and perspective. What’s more, medical experts can explain the benefits of professional senior care and home health care (such as alleviating unpleasant symptoms of your parent’s disease, for example, or reducing the risk of hospitalization) and provide correct answers to concerns about treatment and care practices.
It is a good idea to involve fiends and other family members as well – they might be able to help you persuade your loved one to accept help.
4) Involve your senior loved one in the planning of their care and give them choices
A sense of involvement and a chance to have a say in important decisions about their care will reduce apprehension and give your senior loved one a feeling of self-worth and dignity. So, be sure not to make unilateral decisions unless your parent really doesn’t have the mental capacity to participate in the decision-making – try to involve them in the process and give them options.
If your elderly parent refuses home care, you can “relax” their resistance by letting them make some choices and asking them about their preferences, so they have a measure of control over the decisions that are being made. Ask your loved one what kind of help they would like to have (grocery shopping, meal preparation, housekeeping, doing the laundry, personal care assistance, etc.), discuss whether mornings or afternoons will be better for a caregiver to come, talk about the activities your parent would like to engage in with their new companion (playing games, going out for walks, attending social events), etc.
It may not be possible to suit all of your elderly loved one’s wishes, but it’s important to take them into consideration.
5) Choose a trustworthy elder care agency and find a caregiver who is a good match with your elderly parent
Know what to look for in a home care provider and research your options well before making your final choice. Make sure you’re working with a licensed elder care agency with an excellent record of customer service. Ask for a compassionate and trustworthy caregiver with experience with the type of care that your loved one needs (especially important when dementia care is required) and interview potential caregivers to find the best fit for your family. Let your parent participate in the hiring process and have a say in the final decision.
6) Suggest a trial period
A trial run will give your loved one a chance to test the waters and experience the benefits of home care without a sense of permanence.
Ask your elderly parent to try receiving care for a short period of time. Assure them that if it doesn’t work out, you will think of other options. In most cases, the trial period will be a positive experience and will continue seamlessly.
7) Take things one step at a time
It’s very important to take things slowly and carefully when it comes to accepting outside care. Be sure to introduce the caregiver to your elderly parent a few days before services begin – you can all have coffee together, take a walk, or enjoy some other pleasant, friendly activity. You can also ask the caregiver to accompany you and your parent to a doctor’s appointment, have them take your parent grocery shopping while you’re still at work, etc.
What matters is to let your loved one get familiar with the caregiver and become accustomed to assistance from someone other than you. They will see that it doesn’t feel like an imposition and will likely start on friendly terms with their new companion.
8) Be there during the first few shifts of the caregiver
Your presence will help things go more smoothly until your parent and the caregiver get to know each other and establish some kind of routine. It will also reassure your loved one that they’re safe and in good company.
Needless to say, this will be an opportunity to see if the caregiver is a good match with your parent as well.
9) Communicate openly about challenges and problems
Open communication – both with your parent and their caregiver – is of paramount importance for finding efficient solutions to any problems that may arise and overcoming any challenges your loved one and their caregiver might face. Make sure you state your wishes and requirements clearly, discuss any ongoing issues with the caregiver, and listen attentively to what your parent has to say. This will help improve not only the care experience, but also your loved one’s quality of life.
Call Assisting Hands Home Care
If your elderly parent in the Batavia, IL area wishes to remain independent and age in place but needs some extra assistance, Assisting Hands Home Care is there to help. Our experienced, courteous caregivers will provide excellent, personalized senior home care for your loved one so they can continue to live at home safely and comfortably. You can find us at (630) 332-2203 for more information about our quality senior care services.