When Loved Ones Reject Care

No one likes to see those they love, who were once strong, vibrant, and full of life, suddenly be unable to do things that used to come so easily to them. If your loved one is no longer able to independently do the things they once could, what do you do if they refuse to receive or accept help? 

For loved ones who want to see their parents keep doing what they used to do, it can be quite frustrating when parents refuse some help now and then. In particular, when  a loved one is stubborn or too proud, it can really complicate matters, and turn something that should have been easy into something much more time-consuming.

So, if you currently find yourself in this type of situation, let’s look at some tips that you can use to help your loved ones come around to receiving they help or care they need.

  • Start Early

When it comes to receiving care later in life, the best-case scenario is where families have already had the conversation of potentially receiving care in the future. However, if you haven’t had a conversation about it yet, then there’s no better time than the present. Make sure that the conversation is relaxed and not forced. If the opportunity arises, you could ask something like “Where do you see yourself getting older?” or “What would you think of hiring a housekeeper or driver so you could stay at home?” The earlier you can peaceably discuss the situation and the possibilities it brings, the easier it can be to bring them around to the idea when the time finally arrives.

  • Be Patient

When discussing the topic, be sure to remember to ask open-ended questions and to be patient. Give your loved one time to think and answer on their own. However, it could take a while to get to the root issue, with many stops at off-topic discussions along the way. But don’t give up. If you can find out the cause of why they’ve fired several aides, for example,—perhaps because they did not vacuum or dust a specific spot—you may be better able to figure out how to help them best.

  • Probe Deeply

Your loved one may have what is, in their mind, a perfectly legitimate reason for refusing to get help when they need it. Again, if you can ask questions and figure out why that is, then you can come up with a proper solution to the issue. However, it’s important to remember that you should try to build trust with them. Remember to listen to them and try to see things from their perspective rather than cutting them down and invalidating their feelings in the process.

  • Offer Options

If you’re in the process of preparing interviews for potential help, try to include your parents in the interviewing process or the setting of schedules, if possible. You could let them set the days or the times during those days that they have an aide present. Be sure to highlight the positives of having an aide around: companionship for walks, concerts, museum visits, and lots of other favorite activities.

  • Recruit Outsiders Early

It can sometimes be a lot easier for parents to talk with someone from the outside rather than another family member about this type of thing. Therefore, don’t be afraid to ask a social worker, a doctor or nurse, a priest or minister, or even an old friend, to bring up the idea to them. 

  • Prioritize Problems

One thing that might help is to make two lists: one for the problems and one for the steps you’ve already taken, and where you can go to get more help, to address those problems. If you don’t prioritize the issues, caregiving can turn into an even bigger problem than what you’re already facing. By categorizing them, that can help remove some of the stress and bring clarity to the situation.

  • Use Indirect Approaches

If your loved one suffers from a mental health issue, such as dementia, sometimes giving them less information can prove more helpful. You don’t have to go into every minute detail of what the aide can help with before they even have the ability to form a relationship with the caregiver. This might take away some of the anxiety they may be feeling.

  • Take it Slow

Incorporate a new aide slowly. You could start with short, simple home visits or meet together for coffee, then take the aide to the doctor later on. Having some pretext to leave earlier and allowing the aide to accompany the loved one home will help to establish the relationship and make them more comfortable.

  • Accept Your Limits

Remember that you aren’t Superman or Wonder Woman; you can’t do everything, and sometimes bad things happen that we can’t stop. However, if your loved ones aren’t a danger to themselves or others, let them make their own decisions. It’s important to accept your limits, know what you can and can’t do, and not feel guilty about it.