As a caregiver of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you work hard to constantly learn new ways of offering support and assistance with their daily struggles and challenges. But what do you do when they refuse your help? The best laid plans of a caregiver can derail quickly when your loved one resists care or refuses to cooperate.
As frustrating as it is for a caregiver, loved one’s resistance always has a reason behind it. Once you understand the cause of their behavior, then you can begin to work around it in order to bring about the best care results. Sometimes, the solution is as simple as coming back to a task later. Or, it can be complicated by severe symptoms of their disease. Regardless, once you demystify their resistance, you’ll find that the path to cooperative dementia care becomes much clearer.
When older adults without memory problems refuse care or assistance, we can usually infer their behavior is caused by embarrassment, fear of losing independence, guilt from feeling like a burden or simple stubbornness. Adding dementia to the mix, and the loss of cognitive abilities it causes, the reasons for resistive behavior become more complex. Experts from the Social Care Institute for Excellence summarize several reasons why dementia causes loved ones to refuse care, including:
In many cases, your loved one’s dementia won’t allow them to explain the reason for their resistance. They may refuse to eat because they have trouble using utensils and the process is frustrating. They might resist taking medication because of a side effect they don’t tell you about. Determining the cause of your loved one’s challenging behavior will often require you to be open-minded and creative in your problem-solving.
Depending on the situation and how determined your loved one is, you can encourage them to accept the assistance and care you offer. Consider the following suggestions:
Another important strategy for dealing with your loved one’s resistance is to reassess your perspective. When your loved one refuses to comply, ask yourself these three questions: What will happen if my loved one doesn’t cooperate right now? Will they be harmed? Will others be at risk? If immediate health risks are absent, perhaps your expectations for compliance are unreasonable. In the case where your loved one would rather eat oatmeal for dinner, your insistence on fish and vegetables may be unnecessary. Stay humble in your caregiving, and always evaluate your actions according to the best interests of your loved one.
If you could use some guidance and support for caring for a loved one and managing difficult behaviors such as resistance and refusals, contact the dementia care experts at Tuscan Gardens. Our community offers dignified, compassionate memory care for loved ones with dementia and other cognitive impairments. Our devoted care team understands the challenges you face as a caregiver, and we’re glad to lend a hand to make life easier for you and your loved one.