A parent’s refusal of help is one situation that obviously can make it more difficult to care for a loved one – in fact, it can be downright frustrating!
If all you want to do is give your parents the assistance they need, and they respond to you with behavior that seems more appropriate for an irrational child than a reasonable adult, it can lead you down a bumpy road. You get upset by your parent’s rebuff, which of course, causes your parents to get even more upset, further fuelling your frustration. It’s a downward-spiral that leaves all parties frustrated, upset, and hurt.
So, what to do? The best approach when a parent refuses help is to back off and take a look at the situation from a different perspective. What every adult child or any caregiver to the elderly needs to realize is that the senior in question is not necessarily trying to be difficult, or intentionally seeking to upset you. As irrational as your parent’s behavior may seem… it’s often simply that old age affects their communication skills. Their bizarre behavior can be key in communicating something very important – a clue to what is really at the root of the problem.
If your senior parent is displaying any of the following behaviors, here is a guide to what may be the underlying reason or condition.
5 Common Frustrating and Seemingly Irrational Behaviors, and What They Can Mean
1) Won’t bathe. It could simply be that he is afraid or not able to get into the bath and is too embarrassed to ask for help. He therefore thinks of all types of excuses why he doesn’t need a bath.
2) Resists doing things that she always liked. Such as playing cards, singing, or dancing. This could be a sign of depression. Or a sign that the capability to do these activities is slipping. The inability to do what she used to do is depressing, but irrational? Not at all.
3) Won’t get out of bed. This could be a sign that he simply doesn’t feel well. Take his temperature and look for bruises. Remember, elderly people are often fragile and can bruise easily.
4) Won’t take her medicine. She might be experiencing some side effect to the medication. Check with her doctor or a pharmacist as to what the possible side effects are of the medicine she is so stubbornly resisting, and then check for them.
5) Makes excuses not to attend family or other special events he used to enjoy. Investigate if there is something about the physical environment that bothers him – too much noise, harsh smells, or whether the temperature is too hot or cold for him.
This list is intended to help you decipher an elderly parent’s seemingly irrational behavior and to assist in delivering care to a senior who is resisting the very aid they need to continue living in the fashion to which they are accustomed – independent and dignified lives within the comfort of their own homes. Equally important elements in this delicate mix are of course patience, compassion, and trust.
There are many different elder care options available today. One option you may consider is home care assistance. This allows parents or a loved one to remain at home, in familiar surroundings, and still get the assistance they need. Often, caregivers include family, friends, or care-giving professionals that provide a wide range of senior home care services. This can be an ideal situation if you are caring for elderly parents or overseeing their care, when their primary needs are non-medical.
As our parents age, it is important to make sure they are taking care of themselves and staying healthy, especially if they are still living independently on their own. Sometimes they will not admit needing assistance around the house, and other times, they might not even realize they need help. The idea of leaving a familiar home, or of receiving in-home help for everyday activities, can be distressing for everyone involved. However, prior to making a decision, and if possible, do take the time to sit down with your parents and discuss with them their plans and desires for the future before a disability or dementia occurs. Starting with trust and open communication paves the way to a smoother path for senior care.