Some older people don’t want our help, and despite our best intentions, arguing with the person or their family member regarding their need for assistance can worsen an already complicated situation. If an older person refuses help there is, unfortunately, not a lot we (caregivers) can do without consent.
As caregivers we seem to be constantly looking for signs that seniors in our society are not coping with their activities of daily living.
If your client is resisting help there are a few things you can do. For example, see if you can determine whether they can manage the basic functions of living. Furthermore, does independent living pose a risk to their safety or that of others?
When it comes to allowing help into their life, some older people may resist. Help tends to be thrust upon the person without their input and a loss of independence can outweigh the actual benefits of receiving this help. Always involve your client in discussing their options and have alternative options ready for them to consider.
Facilitating discussion is the first step to helping your client find alternative ways to maintain their independence, and will make it easier for you to discuss future needs when the time comes.
We must always respect someone’s refusal to consent to care. Some older people have lived through a life of hardship and forced independence. This can make it very difficult for caregivers to instigate help for someone who is determined to live independently at home.
If you are concerned that a person may no longer have the capacity to make decisions for themselves, then seek appropriate medical assistance. Cognitive testing or the appointment of a legal guardian may be needed. If you suspect cognitive impairment, then you must consider both your own safety and that of others; the client’s transportation needs; their capacity to make independent financial decisions; and so on.
Often decisions regarding care and living arrangements are made at a time of crisis. The sudden need for solutions may reduce people’s ability to think clearly. Keeping an open, ongoing dialogue with older adults, whilst also developing an action plan, will alleviate some of their potential stress and anxiety. If your client doesn’t want assistance for the time being, have a plan that can be activated in the future. The time when they need more help may arrive sooner than they think.