By Jennifer Gibbons, LCSW, Adult & Senior Care Advisor
I’ve heard extreme examples of resistance over the years. One elder threatened a hunger strike if she was moved to a senior residence. Another would promptly leave his residence the moment any paid caregiver arrived, and wouldn’t return until the caregiver left. So what do you do when your loved one needs support and assistance, but is resistant to receiving help? Here are a few strategies to consider that might be helpful.
Choose the Messenger Thoughtfully
Consider who, where, and when the message about care should be delivered. Before engaging in a difficult conversation, make sure your mom or dad is well rested, fed, and comfortable. Choose someone that your mom respects and trusts to broach any difficult subject.
Pick your Battles
Always lead with safety. If your mother wants to cook the holiday dinner but had an accident in the kitchen recently, consider ways to support her rather than just saying no. Could another family member cook with her? Could your mother pick three things that she will cook and the rest will be brought by other family members?
Find the Reason Behind the Resistance
Try to determine the underlying concern. Does your loved one believe that accepting a paid caregiver will mean you won’t visit anymore? Is she refusing to see a doctor because she’s concerned about receiving a diagnosis she won’t like? Was Dad always fiercely independent and views receiving help as a sign of weakness? Gaining an understanding of what’s really concerning your loved one will help inform the way you can best approach them.
Use logic and reasoning. If your grandmother resists help because it’s too expensive, consider educating her about the relative costs of various care options. It may be cheaper to hire a taxi periodically than own a car when you consider insurance and gas. Utilizing household help may be less expensive than moving to a senior residence. Educate your loved one about options and associated costs and put it on paper if you think that would help.
When introducing the idea of paid caregivers to assist your father, lead the conversation with a potential benefit. If your father enjoyed playing cards, be sure the caregiver hired can play with him. A caregiver could also assume the household tasks that your father dislikes most. Highlight the ways the caregiver will be able to relieve your father of any burdens and enable him to remain independent at home.
By approaching your loved one thoughtfully, you can move from “No!” to “well, maybe…” and possibly “yes.”
Care.com’s Adult and Senior Care Advisers are experienced, masters-level social workers.
Call us today at (855) 781-1303 and we’ll be happy to help with your senior care challenges.