Dealing with Resistance

At Senior Alternatives, we recognize that it can be a challenge to get a parent or family member to accept that they need assistance. For older adults, the difficulty accepting that they need help is related to a feeling of loss of control and a wish to not be a burden to family members. In some cases, the added problem of dementia makes it difficult for the individual to process the facts of their current situation.

Here are some ideas about how to approach this issue:

  • Go slowly. Start with what your loved one will accept and proceed from there even if it is less than you feel they need.
  • Involve them in choosing their Caregiver if possible.
  • Allow them to do as much as is safely possible on their own – this will preserve a sense of independence and self esteem.
  • Explain how their situation impacts you as their adult child or family member, in a calm and matter of fact way. Let them know what your specific concerns are and the possible consequences if they don’t have help – risk of falls, poor nutrition, loneliness, isolation, medication mismanagement, etc. Use “I” statements – “I worry that you will fall and no one will be here to help you.”
  • Show them that assisting with caregiving is rewarding and satisfying to you and is not just a one-sided process. It is an opportunity to give back to them.
  • Try to view the situation from their perspective. Take a look at it as objectively as possible. What are the needs of everyone involved?
  • Allow them to express their feelings about needing care without argument or judgment. Feeling understood can help them move toward acceptance.
  • Choose your battles – focus on getting the most important things done, like eating properly or taking medications. Offer simple choices when possible, such as whether to take the medicine now or in 10 minutes, whether to have a sandwich or soup for lunch.

Watch Janet Brush speak on the topic here.

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