June 11, 2018

Elder Care: What to do when your family member refuses help

Caring for an aging family member can be a full-time job, and assisting your loved one becomes particularly frustrating when they don’t accept your help.

By refusing to cooperate, your loved one is likely trying to communicate that there is a larger issue at hand. As a caregiver, if you’re able to pinpoint the larger issue at hand, you will be able to develop techniques that inspire cooperation as well as communication with your family member. Read below to learn about examples of resistance and viable solutions.

Resistance Example #1

If your aging family member refuses to engage with family or friends, it can often mean environmental factors are affecting their mood. As we get older, loud commotion and other external factors can cause stress, so make small adjustments to temperature, lighting, volume and other factors to help your loved one.

Resistance Example #2

If your family member refuses to perform physical tasks, such as getting into the car or out of bed, their resistance is likely stemming from a physical ailment. Take notice of physical characteristics such as sores and bruises, and keep a First Aid Kit on hand to heal and prevent further injury or infection.

Resistance Example #3

If you find that your loved one avoids household tasks that should be fairly simple, depression is often the reason why. When your loved one’s physical state is making a task more difficult than it used to be, they may feel embarrassed that they need help. A good tactic is to start by encouraging them as you complete tasks together and assist only when you’re needed. This will help them regain independence and thus increase confidence.

Resistance Example #4

If your loved one refuses to take their medications, that is usually an indicator of negative physical side effects. Taking the time to learn about the possible side effects of your loved one’s prescriptions should help you shed light on the situation. Once you pinpoint the negative symptoms, you can contact their doctor to see what other options are available for their comfort.

Remember that while the examples listed above are fairly common, every situation is unique. In any case of resistance, it is important for the caregiver to remain calm. The following steps can help keep your reaction in check:

  1. Do not react immediately. Take a step back and assess the situation so you can proceed calmly.
  2. Think before you speak. Be aware of your own feelings, and remember that getting visibly angry or frustrated may make your loved one even more inclined to resist.
  3. Pick your battles. Ask yourself: Is a confrontation worth it in this particular situation? If it is a one-time problem or something small, you may want to let it slide.
  4. Lastly, try to gain perspective. Put yourself in their position for a moment and consider their personal history, patterns, or background information. This will often provide you with some insight into their reaction.

If you make adjustments and your loved one still resists care, take the time to decide the best way to confront them directly and cautiously. Approach at a time when you are both comfortable, and make sure you listen with an open mind.

When caring for a family member becomes too much to handle, assisted living is often the best option for both parties. At Summerfield Senior Living, our residents maintain their independence and have the peace of mind that the personalized care they need is available to them. Visit lifeatsummerfield.com to learn more and to schedule your personalized tour.

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