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Caring for the elderly: Dealing with resistance
Caring for the elderly can be challenging — particularly if a loved one is resistant to care. Understand what's causing your loved one's resistance and how you can encourage cooperation.By Mayo Clinic staff
One of the toughest challenges you can face when caring for the elderly is resistance to care. How do you help a loved one who doesn't want help? Understand how resistance to care can develop and strategies for fostering cooperation when caring for the elderly.
What causes resistance to care?
If your loved one is in need of care, he or she is likely dealing with loss — physical loss, mental loss, the loss of independence. Accepting care may mean relinquishing privacy and adjusting to new routines. As a result, your loved one may feel frightened and vulnerable, angry that he or she needs help or guilty about the idea of becoming a burden to family and friends. In addition, your loved one may be stubborn, have mental health concerns or simply think it's a sign of weakness to accept help. He or she might also be worried about any associated costs.
What's the best way to approach a loved one about the need for care?
If you suspect that your loved one will be resistant to care — whether from family, other close contacts or a service — you may be hesitant to bring up the topic. To start communicating with your loved one about his or her need for care:
- Choose a time when you and your loved one are relaxed. This will make it easier for you and your loved one to listen to each other and speak your minds.
- Ask questions about your loved one's preferences. This will help you provide the type of assistance your loved one wants. What type of care does your loved one want or need? Does your loved one have a preference about which family member or what type of service provides care? While you may not be able to meet all of your loved one's wishes, it's important to take them into consideration.
- Enlist the help of family members. Family and friends may be able to help you persuade your loved one to accept help.
- Don't assume that your loved one is unable to discuss care preferences. While your loved one may be ill, he or she may still have care preferences and be able to make some decisions regarding care. If your loved one has trouble understanding you, be sure to simplify your explanations and the decisions you expect him or her to make.
- Don't give up. If your loved one doesn't want to discuss the topic the first time you bring it up, try again later.
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- Takahashi PY (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 20, 2010.
- Lunde AM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 23, 2010.
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