How to deal with an Aging Parent in Denial About their Care Needs
When you begin to look at senior care options for your aging parent, you might meet resistance. While it is a perfectly natural reaction, it can be detrimental when your aging loved one is in denial about their situation. Your job as a family caregiver is to support and empower your loved one so that they feel confident in themselves even if they need assistance. Today we will look at the reasons that many seniors are in denial and what you can do to positively support your loved one as they age.
Why Are Aging Parents in Denial?
While aging can be a great thing, there are some aspects of it that make people uncomfortable or ashamed. For this reason, some seniors will resist if you suggest they need help. It is human nature to desire independence. If your body denies you the ability to be independent due to decreased mobility or the reliance on an assistive device, you may become defensive of your autonomy. Being forced to rely on others for assistance can make a person feel as if they are losing control of their self-sufficiency.
Additionally, it is extremely common for seniors to be depressed. Seniors are more likely to lose loved ones, to lose autonomy, or to suffer from a life changing illness. This depression can take a toll on their ability to lead a normal life. For example, they might start exhibiting hoarding behaviors to cope with their mental state. These coping mechanisms could embarrass them to the point where they do not want outsiders in their homes.
There are many factors in your loved one’s life that might make them defensive of their situation. This can lead them to feeling negatively towards assistance. Thankfully, there are some approaches you can take to better understand your loved one and provide them the care they need.
What Can You Do to Help Your Aging Parent in Denial?
1. Discover the Reason for Their Denial
Your loved one might not even be aware that they are in denial, so it is not a good idea to confront them initially. Take note of their behavior when they reject your attempts to help them. Try to figure out what they are really saying. Are they hesitant to have strangers in their home? Does your aging parent in denial feel that they are losing confidence in their ability to care for themselves? Try to find the core reasoning at the heart of their concerns. If you can address what is really bothering them, then you can start to create plans that are sensitive to their needs.
2. Determine What Care is Needed
An informal assessment can help you determine how your loved one is aging. You can start performing assessments on your loved even if they are not exhibiting signs of physical or mental decline. This can help you establish a trustworthy baseline and discover what care is truly needed.
If you do notice that your loved one is starting to decline in a certain area, use your assessment as support for action. Avoid overwhelming your loved one. Only give them the support they need. For example, if your loved one can safely do everything but need assistance cleaning their house, only provide them with that. Introduce care, continue to assess your loved one quarterly, and increase care gradually as it is needed.
3. Create Aging Goals
Ultimately, you will only be successful in your endeavor to stop your loved one’s denial if you center you are supporting their goals. All the planning in the world is pointless if it is not goal focused. Have a conversation with your loved one and ask them what their goals for aging are. Do they want to remain active in their community? Do they want to see friends often? Discover what is important to them and focus your efforts on that. Always support your plan in ways that keep your loved one from their fears and move them toward their goals.
4. Empower Your Loved One to Make Their Own Choices
Your aging parent in denial can be negatively provoked by the idea of their children taking care of them. The idea of a ‘role reversal’ where they need to rely on you for care might frighten them. Even if you have the best intentions, your control over the situation may be the very thing that is preventing your loved one from taking positive action. Instead of being committed to filling the role of hero for your parent, allow them to be in control. Present them with solutions and allow them to have the final say. Having a voice and being in control will fill your aging parent with confidence and lead them away from denial.
5. Openly Communicate and Avoid Negativity
Expecting your aging parent in denial to constantly be the perfect example of aging gracefully is unrealistic. Aging can be difficult. Sometimes it can be difficult to be with your loved one while they go through the challenges that aging presents. They might be angry or upset at times and choose to take it out on you. This negativity can be a tactic they use to deter you from your objectives.
When assisting your aging parent in denial, always communicate. Try to understand where negative behavior is coming from, and do not retaliate against them. If you are feeling hurt by their behavior, communicate that to them. Never make fun of your loved one or condescend them for their declining abilities. As much as you are able be supportive and loving. If you need to take space, do so. Being a family caregiver is difficult and takes its own emotional toll.
Are you beginning your senior care journey?
Caregogi is here to be a tool for family caregivers like you who are beginning their senior care journey. We will work with you to find the assistance you need to maintain your loved one’s independence. Our phones are entirely staffed by senior care experts and can help offer advice to you and your unique situation.
We care deeply about seniors and want for them all to receive excellent care and the best quality of life possible. Whatever your needs are we can help you assess your options. Contact us today to speak to a senior care expert.