9 Strategies to Help a Parent Who Refuses Care

I see it everyday, elderly people just like me....independent, stubborn and won't accept needed assistance! Although these are great qualities they can also be a burden to those who are trying to help us. A great article featured on Care.Com written by Elizabeth Pope explains how to help a parent who refuses care.

Your mother resists in-home helpers, insisting you can wait on her. Your frail father won't stop driving. Your aunt denies the need for a personal care aide, in spite of her unwashed hair and soiled clothes. Your grandmother refuses to move to an assisted living facility "because it's full of old people."

Sound familiar? Nothing is harder for a family caregiver than an elder loved one who refuses needed help. "This is one of the most common and difficult caregiving challenges that adult kids face," says Donna Cohen, Ph.D. a clinical psychologist and author of "The Loss of Self: A Family Resource for the Care of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders."

Before pushing your mother too hard to accept help, try to understand her fears about aging, says Cohen: "Many older people see themselves as proud survivors. They think 'I've been through good times and bad, so I'll be fine on my own.' Plus, they don't believe their children understand the physical and emotional toll of age-related declines."

A senior in the early stages of cognitive impairment may be the most difficult to deal with. "Your angry father or agitated mother is aware of this miserable change in their brain they don't quite understand," Cohen adds. Calm reassurance will help them cope with a frightening loss of function.

It's normal for family caregivers 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." "You 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.)

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.comSenior 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. 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)

  4. 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.)

  5. Recruit Outsiders Early
    "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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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."

  8. 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."

  9. 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.

If you would like more information on Home Care Solutions of St. Louis and how we can assist you and your elderly parents please contact us, we would love to hear from you!

Did you Know?

More than 1 out of 3 seniors in America is a veteran or the widow or spouse of a veteran. If this describes you or a loved one and if non-medical care in the home is needed, you may be eligible for the Veterans Administration’s Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit of up to $25,440 per year that can pay for a caregiver. Home Care Solutions of St. Louis has a partnership with Veterans Care Coordination, and can assist in determining eligibility for the benefit. If you or your loved one qualifies, we can help you move through the process and can coordinate care. In certain situations, no-interest loan assistance can be provided to help with qualification and to start care quickly. Lack of knowledge means that very few people who qualify for this benefit ever take advantage of it, so be sure and contact our office if you think this may apply to you. 

A few points of eligibility for Pension with Aid and Attendance
• Veteran must have served during a period of war. Combat or overseas service is not required, as long as the veteran was activated. 
• Veteran or spouse must have a medical condition which demonstrates a need for home care services. 
• Veteran or spouse must meet certain asset requirements. A home and a car are not counted towards asset limits.
•  Veteran or spouse must meet a monthly income-to medical expense ratio. 

For more information on Home Care Solutions of St. Louis or to receive a free in home assessment today please contact us. We would be honored to meet with you! 

Feature Facility - St. Andrews at Francis Place

Older Adults Home Care

I had a great visit with St. Andrew's at Francis Place in my hometown of Eureka, MO. As soon as I arrived I was in complete awe of the most beautiful view.  The facility is surrounded by the natural beauty of wooded areas, valleys, and wildlife, with dramatic views of Eureka, MO. St. Andrew's at Francis Place provides long-term skilled nursing care and short-term Medicare rehabilitation in Eureka and the surrounding areas. St. Andrew’s at Francis Place is very proud to have received a 5 star rating from the Center for Medicare Services. The Center for Medicare Services created the Five-Star Quality Rating System to help consumers, their families, and caregivers compare nursing homes more easily and to help identify areas about which you may want to ask questions. Nursing homes with 5 stars are considered to have much above average quality and nursing homes with 1 star are considered to have quality much below average.

St. Andrew's Resources for Seniors System, in partnership with the Ursuline Sisters, sponsors St. Andrew's at Francis Place, which offers a warm and homelike atmosphere where residents and their families are truly comfortable, safe, and happy. St. Andrew's at Francis Place provides spacious, comfortable accommodations with ample recreational areas in a tranquil setting with breathtaking views. Residents are provided life-affirming, supportive, and loving care.

St. Andrew's at Francis Place provides top-quality; long-term skilled nursing services and accommodations specifically designed for seniors with more serious health needs. Highly skilled nurses, therapists, and other caring staff members provide warmth and companionship, medication management, personal care, home-cooked meals, and snacks throughout the day.

Short-Term Medicare Rehabilitation provides skilled care following an illness or injury. At St. Andrew's at Francis Placethey focus on the health of the entire person, helping residents achieve their most fulfilling and independent lifestyle through social, emotional and physical efforts. This care can include physical, occupational and speech therapies to improve wellness and independence. Their experienced rehabilitation team of physicians, licensed nurses, therapists, dietitians, recreation specialists, and spiritual advisors all work together to create individualized treatment programs that help get you back to where you were.

St. Andrew's at Francis Place also follow the philosophy of "Person-Centered Care". This means their residents have a greater say in their day-to-day lives, they are encouraged to make their own decisions, and they are offered more choices in how they want to live through giving them meaningful activities and opportunities to experience self-worth and purpose in daily life. Person-Centered Care also means that staff has a closer relationship to residents, and have the authority to quickly respond to individual resident needs. This creates a closer relationship between staff and residents, which ultimately leads to better care and faster healing.

For More Information on St. Andrew's at Francis Place please contact:

Vikki Czech - Director of Admissions -St. Andrew’s at Francis Place

Cell (314) 368-9861   
Office (636) 938-5151 
300 Forby Road - Eureka, MO 63025

Home Care Solutions of St. Louis is available to talk with you about you or your loved one’s in-home care needs. We provide in-home care throughout St. Louis & Jefferson County. For more information about our home care services contact us: Office: (636)587-6228 Email Address: info@homecaresolutions-stl.com