Tuesday Tips ~How to Handle Resistance to Care with Stubborn Loved Ones

Tuesday Tips ~How to Handle Resistance to Care with Stubborn Loved Ones

How to Handle Resistance to Care with Stubborn Loved Ones

If you are caregiving for an aging loved because of any health condition, then you may be familiar with resistance to care. For example, perhaps you have tried to do things to care for your loved one, but they often tell you they do not need help or refuse to admit what they need help with. Another example of resistance can include your loved one refusing to go to the doctor because they do not like hospitals, do not like doctors, or are too prideful. If you have experienced this from your loved ones, then you are not alone.

A 2015 study reported that many adult children report that their aging loved ones as being stubborn.[1] This situation can be very difficult to manage, especially when it comes to situations where serious health problems are at stake. In this blog, we will go over why some people may develop resistance to care, as well as some strategies to help family caregivers manage stubbornness.

Causes of Stubbornness

Many times, resistance and stubbornness can stem from the difficulty of coming to terms with loss, like physical loss, mental loss, or the loss of a spouse or of one’s independence.[2] These kinds of situations usually entail that your loved one has to become vulnerable in some sense, like giving up their privacy or having to adapt to new routines. A reduced ability to cope with such changes can lead you loved one to fell frustration, anger, or guilt about becoming a burden to friends or family.

Other reasons may be personal, cultural, societal.  Some individuals may have had bad experiences in hospitals or with previous health issues, leaving a bad impression about receiving future care. Others may have been raised that accepting help is a sign of weakness.[3] Causes of resistance can be hard to pin down, but there are some strategies that family caregivers can do to manage them.

Strategies to Handle Stubbornness

(1) Start with Empathy: Take a moment to reflect about what your loved one is experiencing and understand that it can be a difficult emotional experience to go through. Empathy can often help you manage your own levels of frustration as you interact with your loved one when they are angry and resistant.

(2) Assess What Your Loved One Needs: Next, acknowledge what your loved one needs and what resources or services will be the most appropriate for their situation.

(3) Avoid Distractions During Serious Conversations: When you must talk with your loved one about a difficult decision, like going to the doctor or hiring a professional caregiver, do so at a time when you can give each other your full attention. This will ensure that you both can focus your energy on the topic at hand.

(4) Be Positive About Care: Experiencing an illness or problems with aging is difficult and there is a lot of negativity on your loved one’s mind. When you suggest receiving care, highlight all of the benefits that come with it, and frame it as a positive thing. Another strategy is to reframe the situation, like calling a medical caregiver a “volunteer” or “helper” to help lessen the negative emotions that come with receiving medical care.

(5) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: When it comes to care, try to avoid tiny arguments that can put a wedge between you and your loved one. Instead, focus on the larger issues when it comes to making decisions about your loved one and their care.

If you have any other questions, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.

[1] Source: Allison R. Heid, et al., “’My Parent is so Stubborn!’—Perceptions of Aging Parents’ Persistence, Insistence, and Resistance,” Journal of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 71, no. 4 (2015): 1-10.
[2] Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/caregivers/in-depth/caring-for-the-elderly/art-20048403
[3] Source: Ibid.

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