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Fonthill House Blog Relative Refuses Care

What Do You Do When An Elderly Parent or Relative Refuses Needed Care?

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Fonthill House Blog Relative Refuses Care

What Do You Do When An Elderly Parent or Relative Refuses Needed Care?

Fonthill House - Hertfordshire
Care home resident and care staff

It can be extremely difficult when a loved one needs care in order to maintain their safety and wellbeing,  but they are reluctant to accept it. However, it’s important not to despair and to approach the situation calmly and sensitively in order to reach a satisfactory resolution for everyone. We’ve collected a list of steps you can take to help address your relative’s concerns and ease them into the idea of receiving the help they need.

1. Start planning early

When you believe that a parent or relative may be in need of 24 hour care, or a higher level of care than they already have, it’s important to start the conversation early, especially if they have displayed some resistance to getting this kind of support. Discussing the possibilities in advance, even if the care isn’t urgently needed yet, can help to warm someone up to the idea and avoid a panic. 

If you find that they are more reluctant and against the idea of receiving care, having brought the topic up earlier will have bought you some more time to understand their reasoning and address their worries before their situation deteriorates much further.

2. Be understanding of their situation

While it can be very frustrating and upsetting to see a parent or relative refusing care which you can see they need, and which would benefit them, it’s really important to remain sympathetic to their situation. 

Calmly discussing your loved one’s reasoning is the first step towards alleviating their worries and making them more open to accepting help. They may be feeling ashamed about not being able to live independently, or scared that the care they need will mean giving up their privacy or the everyday activities they enjoy. 

It can sometimes take a while to get a parent or relative to open up about what is making them hesitant about care, but it’s a really important step. Having this discussion helps you see what to address in order to help your loved one accept the care they need.

3. List out the care-related issues and priorities

As well as expressing their concerns, your parent or relative needs to know why you think they would benefit from care. However, try not to seem like you are ‘piling on’ or shaming them with a list of things they can’t do for themselves, as this can be a sensitive topic and cause embarrassment. Instead, talk about the things they need help with and the things they can still do by themselves, and suggest the benefits care could bring them, such as the opportunity to socialise more. 

It’s also important to express your own feelings about the situation, perhaps by explaining that if they accepted help, it would put you at ease. However, try to stay calm and avoid seeming like you are ‘guilt-tripping’ them.

4. Give your relative different care options

It’s vital that as far as possible, people are involved in making decisions about their own care, and don’t feel forced into anything. Therefore, rather than going to your parent or relative with a fully formulated plan for their care, try to approach them with a few different suggestions. Then, you can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each option together.

If you’ve reached a stalemate on the topic of care, you may need to change tactics and find a compromise. For example, if you believe your Dad needs a care home, but he insists he’s living independently, a compromise could be installing extra hand-rails, and organising meals-on-wheels deliveries and visits from carers. This might not achieve a perfect situation, but could create one which is acceptable to both of you and helps your relative see the benefits of care, perhaps making them open to receiving more in future.

5. Be patient, but persistent

Accepting that you can no longer look after yourself independently can be very challenging so it’s crucial that you have a lot of patience with your parent or relative. However, in order to make sure they get the care they need in order to keep them safe, healthy and comfortable, don’t give up on encouraging them to accept support. Bring the subject up often, but in as calm, practical and compassionate a manner as possible. Avoid a passive-aggressive, angry, or patronising tone, as this will only worsen their resistance.

6. Seek expert advice

Sometimes, it can be difficult to be persuasive with our loved ones because of the personal dynamics involved. If you feel that it’s clear that someone needs care but they are resistant, it can be useful to seek an external expert opinion. Your relative may be more inclined to listen to someone they view as authoritative and unbiased. Start by contacting your local authority social services to organise a free care needs assessment, which will provide you with a report detailing what kind of support is required.

Am I legally responsible for my elderly parent?

Technically, you don’t have a legal responsibility to provide or organise care for elderly parents if they can make their own judgments, although many of us do feel we should look after them. You aren’t obliged to pay for your parent’s care, although you can do so voluntarily if you wish. If your parent has insufficient funds to pay for their care, they may be eligible for local authority funding.

You are only responsible for making decisions about your parent’s care if they are incapable of making their own decisions, for example due to dementia or Alzheimer’s, and you’ve previously been granted a lasting power of attorney. If you have not, then responsibility passes to the authorities and they will determine your parent’s care. It’s therefore important to consider putting a power of attorney in place while they still have the capacity to choose.

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