Helping Seniors Who Refuse Help

Author: Robert Jo

What do you do when your senior loved one is refusing help? Unfortunately, this is a common issue for caregivers. Seniors can be very stubborn as they lose control of their daily activities, making it tough to know how to break through. All seniors want to stay independent as long as possible, so it can be a delicate balance to strike. Their health is the most important factor, so it’s crucial to know how to handle a stubborn loved one.

Tips for Handling Refusal of Help

1. Determine if there is a cognitive problem. Consult with their doctor to help clarify if stubbornness or refusal for help is caused by any mental impairments. Try not to assume that the senior is not in their right mind simply because they don’t want to cooperate with what you think is best.

It is important, however, to understand that as we age, our brains don’t function as quickly and decision-making can be a challenge. If you feel like you can’t logically reason with them, consider the possibility that their brain function has been slowed down. This is a big red flag if they are unable to exercise good judgment.

Keep in mind that many of these mental impairments can be treated or even reversed, so be sure to ask their doctor about your concerns. Often, seniors who have been in the hospital become agitated and difficult to deal with. Patience is needed and it can take months for them to be restored to the mind they had before being hospitalized. Also, certain medical problems can cause mental impairment, along with side effects from the medicine they take.

In severe cases, resistance or refusal to allow care is brought on by Alzheimer’s or dementia. Warning signs for these conditions can often manifest in stubborn behavior. Although they can’t be reversed, these conditions can be successfully treated, so the earlier the problem is diagnosed, the better the outcome. Ultimately, treatment is aimed at restoring the quality of life as much as possible.

2. Validate their feelings and have a listening ear! It’s harder to think logically with those we are closest to sometimes. This can often be the case, no matter what age we are. Rational thinking can seem absent when dealing with tough emotional issues. Be sure to listen more than you talk and allow them to express their fears and concerns. You can offer comfort and stability, which is often all that is needed to break through the refusal for help.

3. Talk through your senior’s concerns and make compromises. If they are refusing help where it is needed the most, try to come up with ways they can be involved in the solution. Communication is key here, and allowing them to have a voice in their care and treatment will help with the loss of control seniors often feel.

One of the most common conflicts seniors face with family members is striking the balance of living longer lives, avoiding injuries and illness, and staying independent. As loved ones, we concentrate more on safety and health, whereas they may be thinking more about not losing control. Here again, communication is the key. What they deem to be most important may not be the same as you. There is no magic fix, but we can meet in the middle and compromise where it’s possible. The bottom line is that as they grow more fragile in body, they will need more care and help, and that’s where the rub comes in. Talking through it will help everyone feel more secure.

4. Learn to tell the difference between their needs and your own. Determine what is driving your decisions and be willing to loosen your grip on control. Your senior loved one probably already is feeling a loss of control, so it’s very important to make sure you aren’t trying to control them based out of your own fears.

Caretaking comes with its own challenges. It’s never easy to watch our loved ones decline in health, but being a caretaker is a great privilege. Listen to their stories, find out their fears, and offer stability and security. The more your senior adult feels heard, the less chance that they will be resistant to your help.

For more information on caring for seniors, contact Home Helpers today!



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