Your dad won’t stop driving, even though his hearing is failing. Your mom insists that you can take care of her, so why would she need in-home care? Grandma doesn’t want to move to a senior living facility, because it’s full of ‘old people’.
Do these scenarios sound familiar? It’s not uncommon for your aging loved one to refuse help, or to see that it may be time to move. At LifeFone your family members safety is our priority, and we’d like to offer seven tips when your loved one refuses help.
Nothing is harder for a family caregiver than when the person for whom you are caring refuses help. "This is one of the most common and difficult caregiving challenges that adult kids face," says Donna Cohen, Ph.D. a clinical psychologist and author of "The Loss of Self: A Family Resource for the Care of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders."
Before pushing dad, mom or grandma too hard, try to understand how they see it. Many older people see themselves as proud survivors. They think: ‘I’ve been through good times and bad, been to war, lived through the depression, so I’ll be fine on my own’.
We recommend that you begin these harder conversations early, long before a health crisis hits. Look for opportunities to ask, ‘Dad, where do you see yourself getting older?’ or ‘how would you feel about having a housekeeper come in once a week?’
Try to understand the motivation behind their behavior
Ask yourself; are they acting this way out of habit, to assert independence, or because they are depressed or confused? Are they afraid of something? Accepting help or moving can easily strike fear into them, as they recognize that they aren’t as able as before.
Ask open-ended questions and give them time to answer. It may take several conversations to discover the reason mom has fired five housekeepers in a row.
Decide how important the matter is
In other words, pick your battles. Is what you are seeing a safety issue, or something that is just irritating, but inconsequential.
Take it slowly
Perhaps dad has said he’s willing to allow someone to help him run errands. We recommend you take that slowly. Don’t take the keys tomorrow, but introduce him to his new driver, go with them on an errand, let dad get comfortable with his new friend.
Take the blame
The fact is, having your loved one get help or move can give you peace of mind about their health and safety. So, take the blame. Let them know how much of a relief it would be for you if you knew they had a housekeeper, a driver, or if they would move to a senior facility.
Treat them like the adults they are
Dealing with a stubborn parent is not the same as dealing with a stubborn child. They are adults with the right to make decisions – even poor ones.
Accept your limits
While you may see areas in your loved ones’ life that should be addressed, as long as they aren’t endangering themselves or others; let them make their own choices. You cannot be at their side 24 hours a day. You need to accept limits on what you can accomplish, and not feel guilty if something does go wrong.
One way you could feel more at ease is by providing dad, mom, or grandma a medical alert device from LifeFone. We have many options from which you can choose, and all can offer help at just a push of a button.