When Your Aging Loved One Refuses Assistance

The adult child of a senior is trying to help a parent age in place – visiting and providing help whenever possible. But the adult child feels they’re at their wits’ end, seeing to their parent’s needs and those of their own family, not to mention work demands. The adult child feels burnt out and wants to hire some kind of help – but the parent refuses to consider it.

This is a very common situation, and there’s no single approach or solution that will get every family past this sticking point. Fortunately, care managers can offer a variety of different ways to help.

Using the right tools

“I often equate this situation to calling the plumber,” says Kate Granigan, CEO of LifeCare Advocates. “The plumber walks in the door with a bag of tools – not just one. He tries them to see what works.” Likewise, says Kate, “We survey the scene, test the waters, and try a few things.” Perhaps the parent will agree to having someone run errands for them, or needs a ride to appointments. Care managers know what’s available. “We’re experts at this, and we know that something is going to work. It takes a lot of pressure off the daughter or son who doesn’t have a tool bag at all,” says Kate.

A neutral point of view

In addition to having the tool bag, Kate notes, the care manager doesn’t have any of the emotional or familial history that relatives do. That “baggage” can get in the way of even having a conversation about bringing in help. Often one of the only ways the older person can feel they’re still in control is by saying “no.” It can be easy for them to feel their back is against the wall when someone is saying “You must accept help” or “Your house is a mess.” Inevitably, the family dynamic revolves around that tension, and it can override the logic of what the older adult might need.

Instead, as a neutral party, the care manager can ask questions and coax out more dialogue. Reframing the topic from an objective point of view creates a different interaction than a son or daughter typically gets. LifeCare Advocates experts ask the older adult about their wants and needs, and begin productive and honest conversations to help the elder meet their goals. Sometimes that means taking care of one need at a time and building on that success.

At LifeCare Advocates, we’ve worked with hundreds of older adults and their families. Like the families, we’re invested in seeing our clients live their best quality life, with dignity and as much independence as possible.

Categories: Aging in Place, Caregiving