How To Help As A Caregiver When Help Is Refused

In addition to loving their independence, seniors run the gamut of emotions including: Pride, vanity, ego, shame and fear, just like everyone else.

Because of this, your greatest challenge may turn out to be convincing your loved one they need help in the first place. 

This is primarily ‘fear-based’ thinking that they are going to be ‘put away’ in some ‘warehouse for the dying’. It is a subject that hits at their self-esteem and self-worth. So you need to approach it gently. 

The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to approach your loved one on a one-on-one basis. Do not let him feel that he is being ‘ganged-up’ on by a group of people. 

There are times for family meetings, but convincing a loved one that they may have to give up their independence and accept their physical limitations may not be the best time. So put some thought into how to approach them and who would be best to approach them. 

In addition to thinking about the approach, you need to think about the proposed solution as well. Is it a case of where your loved one needs a nursing home because their limitations are beyond the scope of you to care for anymore? Will they be coming to live you one of their children? If so, which one? Will you need a home health care aid to come in for a portion of the day? These are the things that you need to have set up. 

Next, make sure you have done your research. You know there will be objections from your loved one. So you need to be prepared. This is just like preparing for a sales presentation or a job interview. 

Here are a few of the things that may be brought up, depending upon which circumstance is being considered… 

Nursing Home 

If you are trying to get your parents into an assisted living facility or nursing home, then you need to know the costs associated with that (or already be applying for Medicaid), what government help is available as well as the services that are being provided at the facility. 

Also, to alleviate their fears as to the quality of the care at an assisted living facility or nursing home, you should check the Medicare Nursing Home Compare tool in order to find a well-rated nursing home in your area. 

Once you have a facility in mind, the next thing you need to do is arrange for a tour of the facility with the administrator so you can see firsthand how the facility operates. You will be able to receive brochures and sales literature from these facilities which are written from the point-of-view of the future resident.

They know how your loved one is thinking, and the fears that they have. Familiarize yourself with this material before you have ‘the talk’, but be prepared for one big objection from the start: the ‘You’re Planning on Putting Me in a Home!’ objection. 

The way to handle this is to not immediately give them the brochures. Ease yourself into the conversation. Show empathy and concern first, and then, because you love them, assure them that you checked out options for their future well-bring and safety. That will help you to get everyone on the same page, so the situation can be discussed without degenerating into an argument. 

Then make arrangements for your loved one to see the facility.

Coming To Live With A Relative 

There is no doubt that this is going to be easier to talk about, but there may still be objections based upon past experiences or resentments. 

Nonetheless, once again think long and hard about anything your loved one may have questions about. For example, when my brother and I made the decision to move my mother in with her, both my brother and my mother had concerns. 

Most of these related to their respective privacy, making sure that the other respected their space.

We did have the additional advantage that my brother had an apartment with a separate entrance in it, but there were still privacy concerns. 

There were also safety concerns. Mom wasn’t very mobile so we needed to make sure that the apartment was “senior proofed” as much as possible. By this I mean grab bars in the bathroom, shower benches to get in and out of the shower safety, a raised toilet to allow her to safely on and off the bowl and a lift chair to safely get up from a seated position. 

All of these things made life a little easier. 

You must be careful when speaking with them that they do not feel as though complete control over their life has been lost. Here are some things that you should NOT do: 

  • Talk to them as if they are a child and not an adult. This is tough for those of us with children, because we are used to talking to those who are dependent upon us as children. Talk to your loved one as an equal. 
  • Never make an appointment for him without asking for their preference. 
  • Never make an assumption about their needs without first consulting them. 
  • Never do things for them that they could do for themselves if given a little more time or if they had access to assistance devices to aid them.


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