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Dealing with Mum's Resistance to Care

May 10, 2021 4 min read

As a caregiver, it is in our best interest to care for our loved ones when they are in their old age. Often, the elderly may need more assistance as they face difficulties with their daily activities due to weak physical mobility and/or declining health conditions. However, despite our intentions to help the elderly, some or if not all of our actions may not be well-received by them.

Causes of resistance

1. Dealing with loss

The elderly may be going through a difficult time dealing with loss. Loss can be in terms of losing their:

  • Mobility
  • Intellectual & Cognitive ability: Thinking, Memory & Judgement skills
  • Loved ones: Family members, Spouses & Friends
  • Independence

2. Difficulty adjusting to changes

When new domestic helpers are introduced to the household, elderly persons may take some time to form trust with their new caregiver. This is also the case for when we are no longer able to care for our loved ones at home and may require alternative care arrangements such as day care or long-term nursing care. Take the time to communicate these changes and be patient as they may take time to get used to the new routine.

3. Perceiving help as a sign of weakness

Seniors may reject help because they see it as a sign that their physical independence has grown weaker and they are not prepared to face that reality. Or, they may feel guilty of having to receive help from family members and as a result they will resist any help in order not to burden the family. 

Help them stay more independent with some mobility aids. Walking aids such as walkers and rollators can provide enough support for seniors, yet allowing them to stay independent.

4. Mental health conditions

When their mental health has deteriorated, symptoms such as memory loss or conditions like dementia can add more confusion when they are receiving help. They might think that they are still capable of doing normal daily activities (e.g. walking) and feel confused when someone is assisting them.

All in all, this can contribute to fear, anxiety, anger, and guilt for both the care recipients and caregivers. In terms of anxiety, seniors may feel overwhelmed when they think they are receiving too much help while caregivers feel anxious when seniors are not getting the proper amount of care.

Dementia activities can help keep them in good spirits, reduce their level of anxiety and reduce depressive episodes. These activities help to stir memories and allow them to reminisce about their life, foster emotional connections with others, encourage self-expression, and keep them engaged.

AquaPaint is a unique painting activity for people with dementia. Simply paint water onto the sheets and watch the image appear. Each set comes with five different images that have been carefully selected to help start a conversation when the painting is complete. As the water dries the image will fade ready to be used time and again.

How do we emphasise the importance of care?

1. Get professional help

Seek information and advice from doctors, trained specialists such as caregivers, and even counselling from nursing homes.

2. Right time, right place, right conversation

Talk to them when they are feeling relaxed and there are no disruptions in the background that will agitate them. Make the conversation comfortable so they will listen and understand you.

3. Take their preferences into account when making decisions

If possible, ask them how they want their care to be done or who they want to receive help from. Most importantly, emphasise the benefits of receiving help so they also know what they can gain from the care.

Allow them to have autonomy process of making decisions over some choices. You can start by involving them by allowing them to choose assistive equipment and walking aids. Our canes from The Cane Collective come in different attractive designs.

4. Simplify the process of care

Seniors may have preconceived notions when it comes to receiving care, especially when it involves huge arrangements such as being sent to nursing homes or hiring a new caregiver. They may find it difficult to understand so convey the information in simpler ways that they can comprehend. 

Strategies to manage resistance to care

1. Trial

Make them experience care through test runs. Try different methods of care and weigh the benefit and cost of each care. Take a look at what is unnecessary or if extra help is needed. Allow them to choose which type of care they want.

2. Framing

Frame the process of care in a positive and fun way. Some elderly may interpret using mobility aids as a form of weakness. Explain to them how using these aids can enable them to go along with the family for outings and meals.

3. Encourage Independence

Some of these products can make daily activities easier for the elderly, especially if they want to be independent and do things on their own. For example, they may want to use the toilet on their own as they value their privacy. To facilitate them, install grab bars to prevent falls.

For caregivers 

Caregivers need to learn how to cope with negative emotions so they would not blame themselves for not fulfilling their duty. 

1. Understand from their perspective

When they are dealing with loss, they can be emotionally distressed. They may need an outlet to vent their feelings, which is often towards the closest person like the caregivers. Keep in mind that their anger is not directed towards you but as a way for the elderly to express their frustrations that they are unable to do so through normal communication. Give them time to allow them to heal from their loss. 

2. Assess their ability

Certain conditions make the elderly behave this way. For example, dementia can contribute to delusions and paranoia.

3. Refrain from showing your anger or frustration in front of them

It might aggravate the situation and the elderly will feel even more stressed regarding the topic of care.

4. Do not keep all the stress to yourself

Talk to a family member if you are unable to take the pressures from caregiving. Alternatively, there are also counselling services through organisations dealing with caregiving and support groups.


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