When Your Senior with Dementia Refuses to Go – Family Caregiver Tip

Family caregivers of older adults who have Alzheimer’s Disease or related dementia have many challenges each day.

That is especially true when their loved one’s disease progresses.

During the course of a week, there are many places that caregivers need to go in order to get things done.

There are essential weekly tasks and important events that we often have no choice but to accomplish and caregivers need to take their senior loved one with dementia along.

Caregivers have to get groceries, go to the bank, pick up prescriptions, get their haircut, keep a doctor or other healthcare professional appointment, go to church, stop by the post office and visit family or friends.

What do you do when your caree with dementia refuses to go?

You can’t leave them home alone and you can’t get help at the drop of the hat to stay home with them.

Tips for Caregivers When They Say No

Here are some tips that could help you manage the NO!

  1. Decide if what you want to do is important enough to go right then if they say no. Pick your battles. Can you combine more errands at another time when they may be more likely to go along without disagreement?
  2. Pick the right time of day. There are times when those with dementia can handle transition. If it is the time when they usually nap or watch their favorite show on TV, you won’t get as much agreement as if you schedule it for a time when their behavior is more appropriate. If your doctor visit must be done at a bad time, contact a sitter service or friend to sit with them and you go alone doing your errands at that time.
  3. Consider telling a therapeutic lie. Sometimes you don’t always have to fully explain your plans. Limit the amount of information you share with them. Give your trip a purposeful spin like “let’s go for ice cream” or “Sue asked you to help her with a project today” and then be ready to do errands and then get ice cream on the way home. This could keep them calm instead of inciting agitation.
  4. Give a physical cue that it is time to move. Take their hand gently and walk them to the car telling them that someone needs their help. Thanking them for their help and abilities to help others as you walk and offering a reward if they help like the ice cream or a cookie you bring in your bag for later.
  5. Don’t try to reason with them to get them into the car. Communication can often be frustrating for someone with dementia due to changes in the brain and it can lead to aggressive behavior. Reframe your request for them to come with you, use a calm approach and come back in a few minutes and re-approach instead of inciting their behaviors by forcing them.

Additional Resources

Caring for a person with dementia is an ever-changing task for caregivers. Here are some additional stories that might help you deal with a particular issue to make caregiving a bit easier.

6 thoughts on “When Your Senior with Dementia Refuses to Go – Family Caregiver Tip”

  1. How do you find out if you can have a family member e a caregiver for the member of the family, and do they get paid?

    • Any person can be a caregiver, there are numerous places to get more training to be more successful as a caregiver as well. Most family caregivers are unpaid however there are some tax deductions that can be requested when conditions are met and there may be VA benefits for caregivers of a veteran. Some employers have assistance programs when their employees are active family caregivers too. We encourage everyone to seek out ways to take advantage of available resources because caring is so important! Thank you!

  2. I love your blog, it contains so much useful tips for “Caregivers When They Say No”. These tips are really helpful. Keep sharing such blogs.

    • Thank you Willie, glad you find the information helpful. Let us know if there is something you need more information about and we will track it down!

  3. I received help from the VA. for my Mother. My Dad was honorably discharged from the military. It depends on your financial situation. My Mom had Alzheimer’s for a number of years and our financial situation was dire.
    You just call your local VA and ask to speak with someone about “Aid & Attendance” financial assistance for your loved one. If you are the full time caregiver for your loved one, you will need to record everything you do, and the times, etc. as there will be a lot of paperwork. Good Luck

    • Thanks for that information Marilyn, I know there are others who can benefit from your experience!

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