How to Deal With a Difficult Loved One

Taking care of a loved one who is getting older is difficult enough. However, it is sometimes made more difficult by the fact that they don’t necessarily want you there or want your help. After all, they’ve been independent for all these years, and if they were your parents, they took care of you too, most likely without help, aside from that of a spouse. As caretakers, it is important for us to try and see things from the perspective of those in our charge, but also to recognize when it’s time to stand firm and lovingly tell them that this is what’s going on, and this is how it has to be.

Just like in any relationship, taking care of a loved one is often about compromises. There may be some things that they are still able to do on their own around the house, and if so, let them take care of those things while you focus on the things they cannot do. Be sure and reiterate (if necessary) that you understand they don’t like the situation, but that you only have their best interests at heart, and that you want them to have the most fulfilling life they can- you just want to offer a little extra help if they need it.

As we said earlier, it can be difficult for someone who has been independent for so long to admit that they need help. That’s understandable. So to help break the ice, you might share some of the times you remember from growing up where you needed their help, or maybe a particular activity that you both enjoyed when you were young. A lot of times, it can help immensely just to have that sort of connection.

Perhaps their health or mobility has reached a point where it is more beneficial for them if you were to move in with them. This is often a big cause of disapproval or difficulty in dealing with our older loved ones. They don’t want to feel like you are encroaching on their ability to live on their own, and it is important to let them know that your intention is not to barge in and invade their privacy or their lives. Instead, you are there so that help is close by if they need it. Plus, eventually, they may even grow to appreciate the closeness of your presence. Maybe they’ve been feeling sad and didn’t know why until you showed up and filled a void in their life that they weren’t even aware was there. And who knows? You might even experience those same feelings yourself, and have that same void filled by their warm presence as well.