Sunday, November 18, 2007

When You Meet Resistance to Help at Home

When the time comes for you to realistically consider home health care for loved ones who can no longer safely live on their own, it is normal to meet resistance to the offer of help. The people who need care the most are often resistant to giving up their independence and autonomy, as they perceive it. This is understandable. Rather than arguing, stand back and try to offer appropriate responses that acknowledge how they are feeling and provide suggestions to alleviate their fears.

Here are some suggestions for resistance to home health care you may encounter:

1. When your loved one says, "I don't need any help," point out how overwhelmed she gets doing normal household chores; or how she forgets to renew important prescriptions, or how she has set off the smoke alarm several times in a month, or any other specific examples. Then tell her how much more comfortable and less confusing her life would be with help. Show her that help would enable her to stay in her home as long as possible.

2. When your parent says, "I like things done my way. I'm the only one who knows what to give your father to eat," tell her she can be involved in supervising the health care giver.

3. When your loved one says, "I don't want a stranger in my house," allay her fears by staying over one or two days and by popping in to see how things are at different hours of the day and night when caregivers are scheduled.

4. When your parent says, "I'm not throwing away my savings when I can manage on my own," contact her accountant or financial planner to assure her that she can afford help. Also discuss the fact that the savings were meant for times when help would be needed.

5. When your loved one says, "I won't have any of those people in my house," discuss the matter of prejudice and urge her simply to give the home health care giver a try.

6. When your parent says, "Absolutely no," contact the home care agency and arrange a home visit with another senior who is happy with her care giver. Seeing a positive situation is always good motivation.

7. Encourage your loved one to express her fears and concerns about what is happening.

8. Discuss what would happen if she won't let people help her. Let her experience a day without your help -- no meals, soiled clothing -- so that she sees that she needs regular assistance.

9. Slowly introduce your parent to outside services. For example, arrange to have someone deliver her meals or do her shopping. A kind, compassionate person coming into her home may earn her trust and prepare her to be open to further assistance.

10. If the situation requires immediate attention, consider hiring a geriatric care manager who has the expertise to help your loved one accept assistance.