WHEN SENIORS SAY “NO” TO HELP

A family caregiver’s job, by definition, is already a difficult one.  Time away from work and family, and the worry of caring for a senior adult all can take a toll.  But when you consider that many seniors often resist help, that job becomes overwhelming for so many caregivers in our own area.

A study of family caregivers conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care® network revealed that more than half of the respondents (51 percent) said that their aging relative was very resistant to care.  These seniors often object to help whether it’s from a family caregiver or a professional who tries to come into their homes to assist.  This is a real problem for family caregivers worried about the safety of a senior loved one who might be forgetting food on the stove or neglecting to take their medications.

Keeping fiercely independent seniors safe at home isn’t a lost cause:  Caring for Your Parents: Education for the Family Caregiver is a support series that addresses senior resistance to care and features a variety of topics.  Among those issues are choosing an in-home care provider, the signs of aging, long distance care giving and communicating with aging parents.  Materials and videos are available at www.caregiverstress.com.  These materials offer a great referral resource for senior care professionals who work with older adults and their families.

Resistance is at the root of many senior-care issues.  Why?  If seniors admit they need help, they feel their independence is in question.  Seniors believe that once they acknowledge they need help, they’ll lose control of their affairs.  They are trying to maintain dignity.  Unless they feel they can trust someone, they resist change.  Sometimes seniors only want help from a son or daughter, which can put undue pressure on that family caregiver.

Most caregivers can go into “crisis mode” to rally around a loved one in the short-term, but you can’t be totally immersed in a crisis mode long-term without your own family, work and health suffering.  The strain can take a particular toll on working family caregivers.

Following are strategies to help family caregivers turn resistance into assistance.

1.  Understand where the resistance is coming from.
2.  Explain your goals.
3.  Bring in outside help.
4.  Research options to find the best resources for a senior in the community.
5.  Respect a senior’s decisions.

Without additional resources and education, the desire to be a perfect family caregiver leads to burn-out.  Perspective can come from friends, support groups and professional and informal support networks.

The battle to turn resistance into assistance can be fierce.  Education can help arm family caregivers with the tools they need to create a win-win for everyone.