Nine Strategies to Help a Parent Who Refuses Care
(Written by Kumar Saha, Founder of My Place Home Care)
It can be extremely difficult when you know your parent requires in-home care, but they are resistant to receiving any help. I experienced this with my own mother — she was against getting any sort of help around the house and told me that she was fine. She was a strong woman, who had always been independent, and she did not need anyone other than me to help her. However, I was not always available. I knew she needed help and the way she was living was worrisome to me. I was always concerned about her falling when getting in and out of the tub, or not eating properly, or not taking her medication. Because of my experience, I would like to share with you some of the strategies that worked for me.
Before any sort of crisis presents itself, talk to your parent about how they see things happening in the future. Do they need a housekeeper to come and clean the house on a regular basis? What about a driver who can help them run errands? These types of individuals can help keep your parent independent.
These things take time and not everyone is on the same page at the same time. You should ask open ended questions and listen to the response. You should also be aware that your parent is not a child and should not be treated as a child.
Determine the factors for resistance to care
Take the time to ask gentle, probing questions to find out why your parent is refusing care. Try not to get frustrated and instead listen and understand the response. It can be as simple as not wanting a stranger in the house, or it might be that they are afraid of losing independence or feeling like their space is being invaded. Remember, this has to be done on their terms.
When conducting interviews for in-home care, include your parent in the discussion. They should be in charge of deciding the days and times their Personal Support Worker (PSW) or Companion comes to the house. Let your parent know that the PSW will act as an aide going to the grocery store, the movies, shopping, favourite activities and even doctor’s appointments when you are unavailable.
Get outside help early
Sometimes it is easier for your parent to listen to outsiders who are not emotionally attached. Some people you might consider recruiting for help are friends, doctors, nurses, social workers, or even a priest or minister.
Make a couple of lists — one for the issues, and one for the steps already taken to deal with the issues and where you need to get help. Writing things down helps to reduce the stress of caregiving by making it more manageable instead of overwhelming.
Use indirect approaches
Sometimes the best thing to do is provide less information to a person with dementia, to avoid overwhelming them. Outside help is available to take your parent for walks, cook meals, and help throughout the time they are there. Allow the relationship to build between caregiver and your parent. Once your parent feels in control, things will become much easier.
Take it slowly
The new PSW should be introduced gradually as opposed to being dropped in unannounced. A first short home visit could be the way to start. Meet again for a coffee, go with your parent and the new caregiver to a doctor’s appointment – make an excuse of having to get back to work and allow the new caregiver to accompany your parent home.
You can only do so much. As long as your mom or dad is not in harm’s way and they are not endangering others, allow them to be in charge. Sometimes a fall, or going hungry for a day or two is just what needs to happen to make your mom or dad see that they in fact do need help.
We had a client who told us it took six months before they called us for help and, today, they are quite happy they did. For more information about family-oriented, affordable, and compassionate in-home care services for your loved one, reach out to our experienced team today!