Taking care of the elderly can be very challenging, especially when your loved one is resisting care. It can be difficult for many older people to admit that they need help, and even those who are aware of their limitations sometimes struggle to accept help that is offered to them because they do not want to be a burden to those around them.
Many elderly people are particularly concerned about change, whether it is changes to their surroundings or abilities or the loss of things that are familiar to them and that they hold dear.
When an elderly loved one resists care that they need, it can create a stressful combination of logistical problems and emotional issues. Watching your loved one push you away can be frustrating and frightening.
Top Tips For Helping A Loved One Who Resists Care
If your loved one is resistant to care, here are some tips for helping them.
Determine If Cognitive Impairment Is An Issue
Not everyone suffers from cognitive impairment as they age, but it is common for the human brain to become damaged and vulnerable as the years add up. This can impact an elderly person’s judgment as well as the way they process any logical arguments that you put forth for why they need assistance.
If you suspect that cognitive impairment is playing a role, keep in mind that some types of this impairment may be reversible. For example, some older adults will develop a type of delirium when they have been hospitalized or are ill, and it can take weeks or months in some cases to return to their optimum thinking abilities. Certain medications and conditions like hypothyroidism might also impact their cognition.
Sometimes, however, the problem is related to underlying dementia that has not been properly diagnosed or addressed. If you believe your loved one is cognitively impaired, get in touch with an expert to assess their decision-making capacity.
Discuss Your Loved One’s Goals
Many conflicts that elderly people have with their families relate to a desire for autonomy and independence. Unfortunately, when an elderly person’s health or mind is vulnerable, it is impossible to provide them with complete independence because of safety concerns.
When asked to choose between safety and autonomy, most elderly adults will choose autonomy, particularly those with dementia. Discuss your loved one’s goals regarding their living situation and their medical care, and try to determine what kind of tradeoffs they might consider acceptable.
For many older people, the desire to live in their own home for as long as possible is very strong. Hospice care is one type of care that takes place in a person’s home and allows them to enjoy a good quality of life on their terms while minimizing their suffering.
It may also be useful to explain to your loved one that getting care could help prolong their independence as some assistance could help them stay in their home for as long as possible.
Suggest A Trial Run
If the topic of care is causing undue stress and your loved one is feeling pressured to make a final decision, a change in mindset can go a long way. Let them know that the type of care they receive is not something that they must decide immediately. Suggest that they undergo a trial run so they have a chance to test the waters of the type of care you are proposing. This may give them an opportunity to see the benefits of assistance and allay any fears they have about how it will work.
Let Them Know That You Hear Them
Issues that relate to aspects of a person’s identity and autonomy can lead to emotional responses. Validating your loved one’s emotions can go a long way toward opening the lines of communication. Make an effort to understand the emotions that your loved one is experiencing.
When you are talking, use active listening to ensure that your loved one feels like they are being heard. If necessary, you can ask them directly to share their feelings by telling them you wish to understand more about their view on the situation.
If necessary, you might consider enlisting the help of a professional. Your loved one might be more willing to listen to advice that comes from a care manager, doctor or lawyer about the importance of receiving care. Another option is to work with a professional who is experienced in assisting families in addressing aging issues, such as relationship therapists.
Reach Out To Harbor Light Hospice
If your loved one is resisting care and is dealing with a life-limiting illness, get in touch with Harbor Light Hospice to find out how they can improve their quality of life and help you approach the topic of care in a manner that your loved one may be more receptive to. Because hospice care takes place in the patient’s home, it allows them to preserve familiarity and independence while receiving the help that they need.