In my 12 years in the senior care industry, one of the most common things I have heard from client’s families is that they had an elderly family member who needed help, but resisted the idea of accepting care. It is a common struggle. The elderly person feels that accepting in home care is a step towards giving up their independence, one they are not ready to take. The family, meanwhile, realizes that they can’t meet all of their loved one’s needs, and wants to make sure he or she is safe when they can’t be around.
Here are some ways for family members to approach a loved one who is refusing elder in home care.
1. Lay the ground work — Don’t wait until a crisis
Ask your loved one what they want for themselves in their elder years, and then explain that having a plan to meet these goals sets them up for success in achieving them.
If they do want to age in place, then at some point it will be necessary to bring in help so that they can live at home as long as possible. Discuss how this fits into their plan. Let them express their concerns, fears and desires. Be empathetic and validate their concerns, but then gently reiterate the fact that having a compassionate home care assistant will be enjoyable as well as helpful, and provide peace of mind for the family. Revisit the conversation regularly as the situation and needs change.
2. Involve them in the process
Including the elderly person in the interview process allows them to feel empowered and often solidifies their commitment to accepting the assistance. If they feel that they had some control over the decision process then they are more likely to buy into the idea as a whole.
There are different types of home care available, and your loved one may feel more comfortable with one type over another. For a brief overview of different types — Home Health Care, Non-Medical In-Home Care, and Hospice Care — read this article here.
3. Gradually introduce in home care
Start by finding reputable in home care agencies that allow the client to interview and select their own candidate. Once a suitable candidate is located, it may be a good idea to consider hiring a caregiver for shorter hours than you may really feel your loved one needs, to allow them to get used to the idea. Put in place a plan to gradually increase the hours once the rapport with the caregiver has developed and the elder person is more comfortable.
4. Turn a crisis into an opportunity
If you find that you are met with too much resistance from your loved one to introduce in home care early on, but the situation changes later on (for example, there is a crisis that involves hospitalization), use the circumstances to reintroduce the idea of bringing in a hired caregiver. Recruit support from the hospital staff (physician, case manager, therapists) to reiterate that a safe return home would require hiring a caregiver. Often when faced with the choice of returning home with hired help or going into a skilled nursing facility, the elderly person will be much more open to the former. You could also suggest that the assistance will be temporary, just until they are able to care for themselves as fully as they did before.
About the Author: Pam Reynolds, CMC is the President and co-owner of Allegiance Aging Care Services. Pam has spent almost fifteen years working in senior care including long term care facilities and home health care. Her higher education is in Social Work, and she has been credentialed as both a certified Geriatric Care Manager and Licensed Assisted Living Administrator. Read more about Pam and her team of Aging Care Professionals here.