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When Seniors Say “No” to Help

A family caregiver’s job, by definition, is already a dif-ficult 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 forget-ting food on the stove or neglecting to take their medications. Some seniors are so resistant they have been known to call the police when their family members have arranged for a caregiver to visit their home.

Experts say that keeping fiercely independent seniors safe at home isn’t a lost cause. There are solutions for them and their family caregivers. That’s why the Home Instead Senior Care network launched Caring for Your Parents: Education for the Family Caregiver. This family caregiver support series addresses senior resistance to care and features a variety of topics. Among those issues are choosing an in-home care provider, the signs of aging, long distance caregiving and com-municating with aging parents. Materials and videos are available at www.caregiver-stress.com so please check that out. These materials offer a great referral resource for senior care professionals who work with older adults and their families each day.

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. It’s also the fear that life as they’ve known it will be taken away from them. Sometimes seniors only want help from a son or daughter, which can put undue pressure on that family caregiver.

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 their family, work and health suffering. That’s according to family caregiving consultant Dr. Amy D’Aprix and author of From Surviving to Thriving: Transforming Your Caregiving Experience. The strain can take a particular toll on work-ing 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 09-14-11-senior-corner.jpgcaregiving. 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. 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 hav-ing 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 in-dependent, too. You know I can’t be here all the time. A little extra assistance will help you stay at home.”

Please read SENIOR CORNER on September 28, for some sugges-tions for turning resistance into acceptance.

Photo: Most caregivers can go into “crisis mode” to rally around a loved one in the short-term.

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