Appointment time for the doctor or hair dresser is fast approaching but your senior loved one is refusing to get out of their pajamas.
You need to go grocery shopping but can’t leave them home alone and they won’t get in the car.
It is time for a much needed shower but they won’t enter the bathroom, no matter how many times they are asked.
These scenarios and many more are encountered all too frequently by family caregivers.
In fact, research has shown that 77% of adult children think their parents are stubborn.
Unfortunately, their stubborn refusals impact the well-being of family caregivers. Anger and frustration at their behavior can quickly turn into resentment, which could change the way you care for them.
What is a frazzled family caregiver to do?
Strategies To Use When They Say NO
Finding coping strategies to help you deal with your senior loved one when they get stubborn and refuse, not only your advice about handling a caregiving situation, but refusal of care that you know is necessary, is important to their safety and your mental health.
Here are a few ideas to help you cope and perhaps even cajole them into doing what you think is important from A Place for Mom.
- Accept the situation. This is very difficult, but the reality is that your senior is an adult and should be able to make their own decisions when they have the information they need even when you don’t agree with them. The caveat here is if they are putting themselves in an unsafe situation. Sometimes you have to intervene.
- Decide how important the choice is. This is when you have to step back and decide if their decision is safe or if it will put them at risk. One example is them refusing to take all their medications. Are some medications essential and need to be given somehow or are there some like vitamins that they can live without? Would a liquid be easier for them or a patch that slowly delivers medication through their skin without the need to swallow — what are the options for medication administration without arguments? In other words, pick your battles and find workarounds.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes things are truly out of your control and all you can do is sit back and hope for the best, but be ready to take over when needed.
- Find an outside outlet for your feelings. Having a friend or family member with whom you can unleash your feelings, talk it out, and vent your emotions will help you maintain your calm, caring attitude toward your senior loved one and help you keep your sanity. Perhaps an online chat or Facebook group who are experiencing what you are can give you support.
- Try to understand the motivation behind their behavior. Try to determine the root cause of their behavior. Are they trying to make you upset or worry, is this response a way to hide their inability to do what is asked, is the behavior a habit, do they understand what is being asked or are they confused, are they depressed and acting out, or are they trying to be independent and make their own decisions (good or bad)? Understanding the why of it might help you create a plan of action for the how of it to help you overcome the behavior.
Every day is different when caring for older adults. Some days will be good and others will be a struggle.
Being a family caregiver is an important role that many of us are called upon to fulfill.
Staying healthy physically and mentally as a family caregiver should not be overlooked or pushed to the bottom of the list. Therefore, finding ways to cope with your daily challenges will help them and you!
Here are a few more resources that will help you handle challenging behaviors.