Caregiving 101: When Your Patient Refuses Help
iSavta | 21.02.2020
Children noticing their parents slowly slipping away in terms of mental and physical capability is a typical scenario that you hear from most people with elderly parents. It is normal. As our parents approach old age, we tend to worry about how they’re going to cope with everyday tasks alone and we eventually start planning on how we can get help for them.
But, most of the elderly are on denial. They always refuse help especially if they feel that they can still manage alone without anyone helping them. These people were usually active and independent when they were still younger.
The usual reply is NO.
You can’t force them to agree on your terms as they are still competent and remain capable of making decisions for themselves. Unless, the elderly is gravely disabled both mentally and physically and is already a danger to others and one’s self. In this case, the kids can intervene and the elderly will be put on guardianship. The children can choose whether they put their parents in an institution for elderly or they will take care of them by themselves with the help of a private nurse or caregiver.
When caregivers are hired to take care of an elderly person, there will be a period of adjustments and the Caregiver must understand why the elderly’s answers to everything is NO in the first few months.
The only reason why elderly people refuse help is FEAR.
Fear of Losing Control
All their lives, they are in control. Every decision and responsibility was done and fulfilled by them. Offering help to them is giving them fear of losing control. Some of them will acknowledge that there are things that they can’t do anymore but they will still insist on some other areas that they can still control and do. In this case, let them do it but always take precaution. As a caregiver, it is your duty to make sure they are safe all the time. If they refuse help, do not force them. Instead, do not counter their resistance and allow them to have some control by letting them make some choices. All you can do is assure them that you will be there in case they need any help.
Fear of Being Perceived as a Burden or Incapable
Most parents do not want to be a burden to their children. With this thought, some of them are keeping secrets and pretend to be okay, appear capable and proving themselves to be able to make decisions on their own. This is where the problem usually occurs. By keeping secrets, elderly patients usually put their caregivers into trouble. They tend to persuade the caregiver not to tell anything to their children. It is important for you as a caregiver to tell everything to your patient’s children. No matter how petty and insignificant those information are, they have to know.
For elderly patients not to feel like a burden or incapable, you must nor let them feel like one. Give them their independence as long as they are safe. Let them help with household chores if they can. Let them cook if they can and let them bathe if they can. You, as a caregiver, are there to support, not to take over.
Fear of Change
They are used to being alone, independent and free to do what they want. Having a live-in caregiver at home will make them feel uneasy because they are afraid of the changes. All of a sudden, there will be someone using their bathroom, cooking in the kitchen, sleeping in another room and using their things. It is nothing but uncomfortable for the elderly.
As a caregiver, you have to know that you are a stranger so you must earn their trust. Do not be too inquisitive and avoid prying on your patient’s personal affairs. Do not use their things without asking permission. Some elderly patients are very possessive with their things. You may cook and use her favorite pot without you knowing. This can trigger a massive stress on her and she won’t take it lightly.
Also, avoid changing the positions of their house furniture. Most of them are used to it and won’t allow anyone to change it. Always ask them and respect their decision. If any of those decisions are dangerous for you and your elderly patient, then it’s time to talk him/her out of it.
Fear of Losing a Lot of Money
They are aware that they are not earning as much as when they were still working. They are on pension and most of them rely on it. They don’t want their children to shed some amount on them. So getting a caregiver always gives them fear of losing a lot of money. They know it’s expensive and they are not ready to spend such an amount each month.
As a caregiver, you have to work on the household budget in terms of food and utilities. Make sure you are not wasting water, electricity or food. If you are doing the grocery shopping, avoid buying things that you and your patient are not eating and may get spoiled in 1-2 days. Work on your budget and discuss every expense with your patient.
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