For many seniors, the thought of welcoming help from an outside professional or medical service into their home seems like an option that is out of the question. Still, for you as the family member, the concern of having an elder live on their own with the risk of falling or not being able to perform daily functions is an unbearable thought. You want to provide the care they need but with your own busy schedule, this is not always possible. When your older family member does not accept help from anyone outside of their home or family, you are faced with a terrible burden of taking on more than you may be able to handle.
If you force the situation and invite guests into your family member’s home without their consent, you risk an unwelcome backlash. For some people, the caregiver may be locked out. If they are let in, the caregiver risks being spoken to and treated very rudely – this makes their job less than pleasant. The resentment that will be felt toward yourself and the caregiver can be difficult to overcome.
If this sounds like a situation you are faced with, here are a few options to help.
Let them have the floor and listen closely to their concerns
One of the biggest reasons elders do not want to allow outside help into their home is because they want to hold onto their independence. This is an understandable concern of your elderly family member and they should be able to voice it without interruption. When you allow them to have the floor and vent their feelings and fears, they will feel more listened to and understood than if they are never able to express themselves. After they have vented about their concerns, you will have more of an understanding of what specifically makes them nervous and can counter it with your ideas of how outside help can benefit your loved one.
Be open and honest about your stress levels
Your family members want to hold onto their independence but they do not want to put you in a situation that will soon turn unbearable and leave you stressed and unhappy. When you are open with them about your care for their health and level of commitment you can give, they may be more understanding about allowing somebody into the home to help. After all, they have at one point been in your position as you take care of your own family and work to earn money that will pay the bills.
Ask a member of their church to help you.
Sometimes having a clergy member come in and help you state your concerns can have more of an impact. The clergy at the church may even have somebody in the congregation who can help which will allow your loved one to feel less like a stranger is coming into their home and more like a friend is there to lend a helping hand. This is a good way to ease the burden from your shoulders and put somebody else on your side as you make your case for outside help.
Start slowly in the beginning
When your loved one finally agrees to allow somebody outside of the family to come into their home and help with chores and other daily tasks, they will most likely still be reluctant to fully embrace the situation. To help, start off slowly and only have somebody come in for the bare minimum number of hours that you need. Once that person has been there a few times, check back in with your family members and see how the arrangement is working. If they love the person or people helping them, they may welcome them into their home more times throughout the week or for longer periods of time which can help to ease your burden even more.
Don’t disappear once help has arrived
Once the help has arrived, your family will still want to see you frequently. Don’t disappear and make sure that you keep a close relationship. Having the help available to your family members will allow you to spend more enjoyable time with your loved ones and less time worrying about their health and well-being. This will strengthen your relationship and bring you closer together.
As people get older, the idea of losing the independence they are so used to can be devastating. Having a stranger come into their home to help take care of them can be their first step to feeling scared for losing this independence. Ease them into the process with these steps and you will both be better off in the long run.
Jane Bongato is part of the team behind Open Colleges, Australia’s provider of aged care courses. Â Â She usually writes about senior/elder care. Â On her spare time, she loves to read, paint or meet with friends.