Do your aging parents resist your help? Do you get frustrated over and over with her refusal to accept someone to come in and clean the house, do shopping, or prepare meals? If so, you are not alone. The problem of resistance in the elderly is not new. Fundamentally, an aging parent or older person’s resistance is about loss of control and the fear associated with that. It is also about denial. The symbolic meaning of accepting help means that I am less capable than before, that I am failing, that I may have to “be put somewhere”.
What can adult children do? One approach which seems to work some of the time is to ask the parent to allow the help for your sake, and for your peace of mind, even if she doesn’t need it. It’s the “humor me” approach. Sometimes, with the right worker at home, the elderly aging parent is relieved to receive help. The right help can reduce the risk of falls and accidents, as well as meet other needs, such as hygiene and nutrition, that frail elders have difficulty meeting without help as they age.
Another approach is to locate help first, find a likely match for your elder’s needs, and then ask the elder to allow you to come over with the helper, to evaluate the quality of her work. Involve the elder in the process of telling you what would make a good worker if she needed one. Ask her opinion. Get her feedback. She may just feel more in control if you do. If she likes the worker, it will be easier, perhaps, to sell the idea of using that worker on a trial basis.
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