There is no place like home. For many of us, we want to remain in the comfort of our own home for as long as possible. However, as we grow older, coping with everyday tasks can get more difficult. In most situations, it becomes clear when an elderly loved one needs some extra help outside of the family unit to live safely at home. But what happens if your loved one resists home care?
Meeting resistance to care can be one of the most difficult parts of the caregiving process. There are steps and strategies that can reduce the stress surrounding conversations about care and minimise your loved one’s resistance to considering it.
1. Understand the resistance
Before taking any action, it can be useful to practice empathy and understand why your loved one is resisting the help they need. In other words, put yourself in your loved one’s shoes.
Imagine living independently for decades, making your own decisions and doing everyday tasks without a second thought. Imagine the physical security you would have enjoyed, not having to rely on others to get by. Now, imagine experiencing a slow deterioration of your physical and mental capabilities – tasks that were once routine are now tasks you can no longer do safely. Confronting, right?
Acknowledge your loved one’s frustrations with not being able to function as independently as they used to. Give them an opportunity to share their sadness by asking “I notice that you seem hesitant about having someone coming in to help you. Can you help me understand where this is coming from?”.
2. Time it right
The idea of home care is often brought up out of frustration or during a stressful event. For example, if your loved one suffers a fall and winds up in hospital, your immediate reaction to the news might be to tell your loved one that they are no longer safe at home on their own and that they need to have home care or move in to a residential aged care facility. This may cause your loved one to stress and withdraw vital information about their health and wellbeing from you in the future.
We suggest waiting until you and your loved one are calm, and the situation can be approached with a clear mind. In the heat of the moment, remind yourself to stick to expressing concern. Ask your loved one how they are feeling after their fall and discuss possible care decisions at a later time.
3. Pay attention to your words
Now that you understand where your loved one’s resistance to home care is coming from, it is important to choose your words carefully when discussing the option of home care. Avoid using phrases such as “You need/have to…” or “You should…” as these phrases can take control away from your loved one and put them on the defensive. Instead, opt for phrases that encourage collaboration and tackling the road ahead as a team.
For example, if your loved one has suffered a few falls recently, you may consider opening the conversation with “How are you feeling about the last few falls you’ve had at home?” and “How can we work together to keep you safe?” rather than “You need to have some help because you’re unsteady.”
4. Get candid
If you are the primary caregiver or go-to person for your loved one, have an open and transparent conversation about the impact your role is having on your life. It may be that your loved one does not understand the time and effort that you are having to set aside, and the responsibilities you are needing to juggle.
A phrase such as “I value that you trust me to be here for you, but there are times that I find myself quite stressed. I would feel better if we had a care professional involved that could help you when I can’t…” is thoughtful, transparent and puts forward the idea of care without being forceful.
5. Pick your battles
A little progress is still progress. If your loved one agrees to having small modifications around the home to make the environment safer, but will not entertain the idea of in-home care, drop it for now and come at the idea of home care again later. Small steps like this can lead to big results, so celebrate the small win and respect the boundary your loved one has placed for now.
6. Discuss a trial period
Trial visits will allow your loved one to see what receiving help feels like, without the sense of permanence. Ask your loved one to consider receiving support in the home for a short period of time. A phrase such as “Why don’t we have someone in to tidy the home and cook some meals a few times over the next month or so? If it does not work out, we do not need to have them back. It’s up to you…” will allow you to gauge their openness to the idea.
It is important to acknowledge that there may be times when an older loved one is putting themselves in unacceptable danger by resisting care. Seek the assistance of an aged care consultant or home care provider who can help you through the process.
However, in a lot of cases, spending time to involve your elderly loved one in the decisions and solutions about their future will help them maintain their sense of independence, and your peace of mind.
If you have a loved one in need of home care services, book a complimentary care consultation with My Care Solution today. My Care Solution provides quality in-home care and support services to help older people across Adelaide and the Fleurieu Peninsula live independently.