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Managing Resistance to Care

Taking care of your loved one is difficult enough but their resistance to getting the care they truly need can make the process exponentially harder.

Below are some strategies to help you navigate the sometimes rough waters of caregiving:

What Causes Resistance?

Typically, if your loved one is in need of care but resistant to it, they are dealing with loss on many levels which can lead to a fear of the unknown. They are struggling with physical and mental loss as well as a loss of independence. They are also aware that a new life with a caregiver or within a caregiving environment means that their privacy will be compromised and their routine greatly disrupted. This, naturally, leads to fears of the unknown, fears of getting themselves back into a new routine, and fears of inviting new people into their life and home.

The transition is not an easy one but there are some ways to help your approach of the subject to your loved one go over more smoothly.

What is the best way to approach the subject?
If you believe your loved one may be resistant to care, try to incorporate these factors into when and how you initiate the conversation.

  • Choose a time when both of you are relaxed
    This allows both of you to speak your mind and listen better to what the other one is saying.
  • Ask questions about your loved one's preferences
    This allows you to get a better handle on what their comfort level is with different levels of care. It also helps you find a starting point for providing the type of care they would be open to. It's very important to include them in these conversations and to greatly consider, as best you can, their preferences
  • Enlist friends and family
    The more friends and family that approach the subject with your loved one, the more likely they'll be open to it
  • Don't give up
    If you are met with a lot of resistance, wait a little while and then revisit the conversation. You'd be surprised by how much resistance can change simply with some time to process all of the factors involved in such a sea change of one's life.

Strategies for Managing Resistance to Care:

  • Suggest a trial run: Allow your loved one to test the waters a bit and to let them know that their decision is not final nor is it permanent
  • Enlist the help of a professional: Sometimes a third party, non-family member can better mitigate such a conversation.
  • Explain your needs: Sometimes telling them the reasons that you need them to receive care from others and the toll that the care takes on your own life allows them to see it as a positive influence on your life and your relationship with them
  • Pick your battles Don't get bogged down on the minutia and minor details of the care.
  • Explain how care may prolong their own independence: Sometimes a loved one's acceptance of care means they can stay in their home for a longer period. This can be a good motivation for them to concede a bit on their level of comfortability with care
  • Help your loved one deal with their loss of independence: The loss of independence can feel like a personal failure so sometimes it can help them deal with this loss better if they have your support to coach them through the whole ordeal.