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Folks Refusing Care? Here's 9 Ways to Stop Mom and Dad from Breaking Bad

January 9th, 2017

Stubborn%20Senior%20Thinking%20About%20Her%20In%20Home%20CarePart 2 on Parents Who Resist Personal Hygiene. Here's What BrightStar Evanston In-Home Care Suggests

Have one or more of the parents you love joined The Resistance? Are they refusing to bathe or shave, take meds, see their physician? Whatever is going on, it's often a challenge to stop getting ticked off . "It's not unusual for adult children of parents to experience rage, helplessness, frustration and guilt while trying to help an intransigent older loved one," says Barbara Kane, co-author of "Coping with Your Difficult Older Parent: A Guide for Stressed-Out Children."
It's a complicated issue and certainly not one-sided as noted in Part 1 of our BrightStar Care Evanston (breakthrough) blog semi-binge series: "Good Things to do When Parents Are Breaking Bad. Check it out because, as noted in that blog, a distinction has to be made between "stubbornness" and other issues, emotional and physical that may be occurring, like Dementia.As a compassionate, in-home care agency for seniors, BrightStar Care Evanston -- a partner company to BrightStar Care North-Suburban -- we deliberately look at all sides of the home care spectrum and try to see issues through the eyes of the patient and the family.

It's important to remain objective. Barbara Kane focuses a lot on the caregiver side and the way some adult children... "may revert to the same coping mechanisms you had during adolescent power struggles with your parent -- screaming, yelling or running out of the room," she says. "You need to understand what parental behaviors trigger your emotional response and realize you have other choices." (And Kane advises considering seeing a therapist yourself if necessary to deal with a difficult parent.) (Whether or not that therapist is a senior is an interesting consideration). 
Here are nine strategies to help you overcome the objections of a recalcitrant loved one:

  1. Start Early
    Ideally, families have relaxed conversations about caregiving long before a health crisis. Look for opportunities to ask questions like, "Mom, where do you see yourself getting older?" or "How would you feel about hiring a housekeeper or driver so you could stay home?"
  2. Be Patient
    "Ask open-ended questions and give your loved one time to answer," says Care.com
    says Care.com Senior Care advisor Mary Stehle, LCSW. "You can say, 'Dad, what's it like to take care of Mom 24 hours a day?'." But be warned: Conversations may be repetitive and tangential, veering off-topic. It may take several talks to discover the reason your mother, a meticulous housekeeper, has fired five aides in a row is simply that they neglected to vacuum under the dining room table.
  3. Accept the Status Quo
    "Don't rock the boat unless you have" to is the philosophy here. It is important that you feel comfortable with where your parents are -- where they are coming from-- when they are being stubborn or difficult, that is why it might offer peace of mind to know that they are surrounded by qualified professionals who are able to help them make smart choices and who can help avoid major disasters. Visit www.carltonseniorliving.com to find out more information about possible options.
  4. Probe Deeply
    Ask questions to determine why an elder refuses help -- then you can tailor a solution, says Kane. "Is it about a lack of privacy, fears about the cost of care, losing independence or having a stranger in the house?" says Kane. To build trust, listen with empathy and validate rather than deny your loved one's feelings. (Learn more about starting a conversation about care with your parent)
  5. Offer Options
    If possible, include your parent in interviews or in setting schedules, says Stehle. Let them choose certain days of the week or times of day to have a home health aide come. Emphasize an aide will be a companion for walks, concerts, museum visits and other favorite activities. (Find a senior care aide.)
  6. Recruit Outsiders Early (Yes!)
    Sometimes it's easier for a parent to talk to a professional rather than a family member," says Cohen. Don't hesitate to ask a social worker, a doctor or nurse, a priest or minister -- even an old poker buddy -- to suggest your parent needs help.
  7. Prioritize Problems
    Make two lists, says Cohen, one for your loved one's problems and another for the steps you've already taken -- and where to get more help. "If you don't categorize your efforts, caregiving becomes this huge weight," says Cohen. Writing it down and numbering by priority can relieve a lot of stress.
  8. Use Indirect Approaches
    If your father has dementia, offering less information may be more effective at times, suggests Stehle. "You could let your parent know the aide is someone very helpful who can take your father on walks, fix him meals, and help him throughout the day. You don't need to explain every aspect of care the aide will provide before the relationship has been formed. This may make your loved one feel less threatened."
  9. Take it Slow
    Weave a new aide in gradually, says Kane. Start with short home visits or meet for coffee, then bring the aide along to the doctor's a few weeks later. "You leave early on some pretext, letting the aide accompany your parent home."
  10. Accept Your Limits
    As long as seniors are not endangering themselves or others, let them make their own choices, says Cohen. "You can't be at your parent's side all the time. Bad things can happen, and you can't prevent them," she says. "You need to accept limits on what you can accomplish and not feel guilty." It may sound unfeeling, but maybe going a day or two without meals is just the reality check an elder needs to welcome a badly needed helping hand.

Oldest comments are listed first

  • This is no help when you already asked your parents thes questions who are very stubborn.
  • Unite and Conquer~ Remember when you and your siblings tried to play one parent against another? If your folks were smart, they didn't fall for those games. They knew a united front was the best way to ensure family harmony. You can take a lesson from that approach if you meet resistance to your overtures. It is recommended that adult children get together as a group to discuss strategy before confronting obstreperous parents. The younger generation can decide which issues should be tackled and how to approach them. If you're an only child, or the only one who cares, you may need to join forces with someone your parents trust -- a clergy-person or a family friend. Having more than one voice expressing the same concern can have a powerful effect on even the most stubborn of parents. It's possible, after trying every other approach to ensure your parents' safety and security, that you'll have to resort to drastic measures: confiscating the keys, sending them to a nursing home, having a court find them incompetent. If your parents can't take care of themselves, in other words, you may be forced to take over. At some point, the parental roles may have to reverse. Did you see anything useful here? Anything that you tried and worked?
Topics: Lifestyle