Home Instead Senior Care Helps Families Overcome Resistance
A family caregiver's job, by definition, is already a difficult one. Time away from work and family, and the worry of caring for a senior adult all can take a toll. But when you consider that many seniors often resist help, that job becomes overwhelming for so many caregivers in our own area.
A study of family caregivers conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care® network revealed that more than half of the respondents (51 percent) said that their aging relative was very resistant to care. These seniors often object to help whether it’s from a family caregiver or a professional who tries to come into their homes to assist.
This is a real problem for family caregivers worried about the safety of a senior loved one who might be forgetting food on the stove or neglecting to take their medications. Some of our senior clients have been so resistant when their family members have arranged for a caregiver to visit their home, they have locked out our CAREGiver or have called the police.
But experts say that keeping fiercely independent seniors safe at home isn’t a lost cause. There are solutions for them and their family caregivers.
Resistance is at the root of many senior-care issues. Why? If seniors admit they need help, they feel their independence is in question. Seniors believe that once they acknowledge they need help, they'll lose control of their affairs. They are trying to maintain dignity. Unless they feel they can trust someone, they resist change. “I also believe it's the fear that life as they’ve known it will be taken away from them,” says Dr. Amy D'Aprix, family caregiving consultant and author of “From Surviving to Thriving: Transforming Your Caregiving Experience.”
Sometimes seniors only want help from a son or daughter, which can put undue pressure on that family caregiver.
According to Dr. D’Aprix, most caregivers can go into “crisis mode” to rally around a loved one in the short-term, but you can't be totally immersed in a crisis mode long-term without your own family, work and health suffering.
The strain can take a particular toll on working family caregivers. The Home Instead Senior Care study revealed that 42 percent of caregivers spend more than 30 hours a week caregiving. That’s the equivalent of a second full-time job.
In the study, family caregivers also stated that their own personal health and job were affected by caregiving. Fifty-eight percent say they are getting ill more frequently and that caregiving is taking a toll on their jobs. Furthermore, 81 percent say their loved ones’ needs are becoming overwhelming compared with 73 percent who thought so just four years earlier.
And that’s what makes countering that resistance to assistance so important. Many times family caregivers make assumptions but never ask: Mom, I’ve noticed that every time I bring up having someone come in to assist, you don’t want help. Why is that? Sometimes the parent doesn’t realize they’re being resistant.
Also, reassuring a senior loved one that you have the same goal in mind will help. Start with: My goal for you is to be independent, too. You know I can’t be here all the time. A little extra assistance will help you stay at home.
The following are strategies from Home Instead Senior Care and Dr. D’Aprix to help family caregivers turn resistance into assistance.
1. Understand where the resistance is coming from. Ask a senior parent or loved one why he or she is resisting.
2. Explain your goals. Remind an older adult that you both want the same thing. Explain that a little extra help can keep her at home longer and will help put your mind at ease as well. Have a candid conversation with him about the impact this care is having on your life. Oftentimes seniors don’t understand the time commitment of a caregiver.
3. Bring in outside help. If a relationship with a senior is deteriorating, ask a professional, such as a geriatric care manager, for an assessment. A third-party professional can provide valuable input. Also, go to www.4070talk.com for tips on how to talk with a loved one. If you are having problems getting through to your older adult, consider asking another family member or close friend to intervene. If you’re not making headway, perhaps there’s someone better to talk to that older adult.
4. Research options to find the best resources for a senior in the community. Your local Area Agency on Aging or geriatric care managers are great community resources. Read more
A new Home Instead resource called The Home Care Solution, is a guide for family caregivers to help them find the best in-home care for their loved ones. If you decide outside help is needed, reassure your parents and tell them you have researched caregivers and you are confident you have found the best one you can find to come into the home to help.