Common Reasons Why Your Elderly Loved One Resists Home Care

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If you have an elderly family member or friend who is resisting any type of in-home care, you are not alone. Most senior citizens prefer to stay living at home, but this can be a challenge for those who may have cognitive or physical issues.  You may recognize that your loved one needs assistance at home.  Soiled clothing due to incontinence issues, body odor from improper hygiene, missed medication doses, missed medical appointments, and an untidy home are just a few of the telltale signs. However, your mother, grandmother, or elderly friend insists that he or she is perfectly capable of living alone.  Trying to convince a loved one who doesn’t want help can be very frustrating.Why is your elderly loved one so resistant to home care?  As your loved one ages, he or she is facing the loss of independence, both physically and mentally.  Most of us value our independence, and accepting care can mean relinquishing privacy, and the loss of normal routines.  They may have lived alone for years, so the thought of a stranger coming into the home to assist with personal care, such as bathing, dressing, and toileting can feel embarrassing, and like an invasion of privacy. When a caregiver is hired to come into the home to assist your loved one, even if it’s just for a few hours a day, it can make them feel dependent on someone else, which can be both frightening and depressing.  Another reason senior citizens often resist help, is due to financial concerns.  Whether they can afford home care or not, your loved one may not be willing to spend money on services that they don’t feel they need in the first place.  How can you help your loved one to overcome these fears and accept help?  Here are some tips that may help convince them to accept in-home care:

  1. First and foremost, be respectful and understanding of how your loved one feels.  The aging process can feel like a loss of physical and mental independence, which is frightening.  Be patient with your loved one.
  2.  Don’t wait for a major physical illness to happen before you have the conversation.  Start early, when your loved one is fairly healthy and independent.  Ask them what they would want to do in the future, should he or she need help at home.  Let your loved one know that you understand it’s important to him or her to remain independent in their own home for as long as possible.  Bring up the subject of in-home care, and speak positively of the benefits.  After all, in-home care can help your loved on to remain independent for as long as possible. 
  3. Try to hone in on why your loved one is refusing help.  Ask questions and gather information so you can possibly tailor a solution according to your loved one’s preferences.  Once you uncover his or her fears, you can possibly compromise and offer options, so that your loved one does not feel they are losing control.  If privacy is an issue, let your loved one know that home care agencies understand this, and do everything they can do preserve a patient’s dignity.  If finances are a concern, consider a compromise on the amount of days and hours your loved one is receiving help. 
  4. Include your loved on in the selection process.  When interviewing agencies and home caregivers, whenever possible, your loved one should participate in the selection process.  You may feel that a particular caregiver is a perfect fit for your grandfather or mother, but he or she may not.  Being included in the selection process also preserves your loved one’s feelings of having some control.  
  5. Include other family members who will support your decision, but don’t “gang up” on your elder.  You want to show that all of you are unified in your feeling that your loved one needs at-home care, but don’t make your grandfather feel that it’s all of you against him.  This will only cause him to become angry and defensive. 
  6.  Suggest a trial run, possibly starting out slowly with only a few hours a week, then working up to where you and your loved one feel that all of his needs are being met. 
  7. Finally, knowing when to pick and choose your battles, and not feeling guilty if your loved one doesn’t agree to your terms, or refuses home care all together.  You did your best, and you can revisit the subject again in the future.  

Resistance is a challenge that many family members, home care agencies, and caregivers face.  By understanding the impact that needing and accepting help has on an elderly person, you can help alleviate their fears, and work with them and for them to remain healthy and independent.  


Photo by garryknight

Photo by garryknight