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Weekly Tips & Insights

When Families Disagree About Care

Updated: May 11, 2020

A new lifestyle (whether due to old age or illness) can take its toll on the family, physically and emotionally. Often times, this change is followed by the need for tough decisions to be made regarding an aging or sick person’s care. In the stress and potential grief of the diagnosis, it doesn’t take much for family discussions to become tense on both ends, and family relationships can become strained because of it.

An older person may have many reasons for not wanting to receive medical care or living assistance, but there may likely come a point when it’s necessary. In this article, we’ll address some different ways to approach an aging loved ones on those topics.

Be Honest and Upfront

The idea of moving into a nursing facility does not appeal to many older people due to the assumed burden on their children. But often times, the refusal to receive help can cause accidents that lead to the very dependence and stress that people were trying to avoid.

Share your concerns about their health and what their refusal for help is costing those around them, in terms of:

  • time - multiple trips to the emergency room that could’ve been avoided

  • money - travel costs to visit them in the hospital, taking off work for these frequent emergencies, etc.

  • peace of mind - the stress and constant worry affects work performance, marriages and health

Get to the Root of the Problem

It’s difficult to come to terms with declining physical and mental capacity and, many times, outright refusal of help of any kind is a defense mechanism to hide true insecurities about declining health and loss of independence.

Examine your older loved one’s behavior to try to identify what their core issue is, and explain the different available options for them, like assisted living facilities, which could allow for a level of independence they’re comfortable with, while still receiving help that ranges from assistance with daily tasks like dressing, to having their medical care administered.

Share the Facts

Sometimes, the older we get, the harder it is to deal with change, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. One large deterrent for older people accepting help is that they are emotionally connected to their homes, and don’t want to leave that safe haven behind. There are many options that make it so that they don’t have to.

Look into in-home care programs that allow people to receive the care and assistance they need from the comfort of their own homes. If that is not a good fit, present the benefits that living in a care facility would provide: not having to deal with indoor or outdoor home repairs, and access to meals, social activities, and even on-site medical services like physical therapy.

It’s important to be considerate of how a sick or aging loved one is coping with their changing needs. Hopefully, some of these strategies will help to have open, honest and productive discussions about what’s mutually best for their well-being and the family, as a whole.

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