Support, guidance & advice for todays primary carers
Even with comprehensive planning involving all members of the family, it is not uncommon for the care plan to be met with some resistance when it needs to be enacted. Many older adults will not ask for help and refuse to acknowledge they need assistance – they often feel they will be a burden to their families or lose their independence.
Note: if your older loved one has Dementia, seek professional assistance from a doctor or aged care professional. Reasoned discussion may not work and other strategies will need to be used.
The following five strategies can help you to overcome your older loved one’s resistance to assistance.
1. UNDERSTAND THE REASONS FOR THE RESISTANCE
Ask your parent or older adult what’s driving the resistance to assistance. “Mum, I notice every time I bring up the idea of someone coming in to help, you resist it. Why is that?” Often older adults don’t realise they are being resistant.
Once needs and resources are identified, you and your siblings will have a better idea of what will be required of your family. For example, if your parent/s want to stay at home and ‘age in place’, consider whether someone in the family will supplement their care, if you will divide those duties among you, or if you will enlist the help of a professional Carer to support them to continue living independently at home.
2. EXPLAIN YOUR GOALS
Remind your loved one that you both want the same thing: independence at home and quality of life. Explain that a little extra help will keep them at home for longer and will put your mind at ease as well. Have a candid conversation with him or her about the impact this is having on your life. Often, older loved ones don’t understand the time commitment of a carer. Use the phrase: “I would feel so much better if I knew you had more help, someone to do your food shopping, someone to take you to the chemist, someone to be here when I can’t be etc.”
3. BRING IN OUTSIDE HELP
If a relationship with an older loved one is deteriorating, ask a professional for an assessment. A third-party aged care professional can provide valuable input. You can also visit homeinstead.com.au/resources for additional tips on how to talk with a loved one. Another option if you are having problems getting through to your older loved one is to ask another family member or close friend to intervene.
4. THE IMPORTANCE OF RESEARCH
If you decide external assistance is needed, reassure your loved one and let them know you have researched all of the options available to them and you are confident you have found the best Carer you can find to come into the home to help them.
5. RESPECT THEIR DECISIONS
Sometimes you won’t agree with the decisions of your older loved one – that’s okay. As long as your loved one is of sound mind, he or she should have the final say. It’s important to empower your ageing adult to make informed decisions about their own care. Avoid making unilateral decisions unless he or she no longer has the mental capacity (eg Alzheimer’s Disease) to participate in his or her own life choices.
If your older loved one is still resistant, but a danger to him or herself, consult a lawyer about taking steps towards becoming a guardian and enduring power of attorney so that when the time comes, you are able to make decisions on your loved one’s behalf when they are incapable of doing so themselves.
REAL LIFE SITUATIONS
The stress involved in watching an older loved one deteriorate as they grow older can sometimes cause strain on sibling relationships. These real-life family stories are followed by problem solving tips and resources for handling these situations before too much damage occurs.
1. Overworked, under appreciated
You just received the big promotion you’ve always dreamed of and, as the youngest and the favourite, you’ve also cared for Mum since her fall. You’re struggling to juggle the pressures of your own family work-life balance with the additional role of primary carer. You are tired, stressed, and resentful that your siblings won’t step up to help. What do you do?
It is common for one sibling to get stuck with all the work when it comes to caring for older loved ones. If you’re feeling stressed by the load, it’s time to speak up.
Arrange a meeting with your siblings
Approach your siblings with specific requests for advice, input and assistance in advance. A group putting their minds to the challenges can come up with better solutions.
Sometimes siblings have different views
It’s common for siblings to have different views of what comprises help. They may not agree with the primary carer’s view on the help that is required. Some may even say “I won’t help on your terms.” They may also think the primary carer is offering too much help. These perspectives may be the result of what’s happening in a sibling’s life, or it be a reflection the relationship he or she has with the older loved one.
Talk to your parents
Make sure they are not telling your siblings that they don’t need help.
You can access short-term care for your parents to provide you with respite from your role as primary carer, allowing you a break and time to attend to your own everyday activities and responsibilities. Respite care can be provided at home, a community centre, or residential aged care facility.
2. Fighting for control
You’ve been the primary carer for your mum during the past year. Your siblings have offered to help, but it seems that if you want something done right, you must do it yourself. To be frank, your siblings just don’t seem as reliable. Your marriage, however, is beginning to suffer and you don’t know what to do.
Sound familiar? This is an issue that often presents in family caregiving situations. Maybe you feel as though you’re in charge only to have your sibling come in and take over the situation. Or perhaps you feel as though no one else does the job properly.
It’s easy to feel that no one else can do the job, but this is where the 50/50 Rule applies to you too – be sure to allow your siblings to share in the family are giving responsibilities.
Your siblings might feel left out
Perhaps your siblings need to feel they have contributed something to your mother’s care too. Embrace this. A whole-of-family approach to care can benefit everyone.
Give up a little control
It’s important to do this for your own self preservation as well as that of your family. You will be no good to Mum if your own health fails. It’s also likely that your mother would be upset to learn she was the source of strife in your marriage.
Let your siblings know you would like to take them up on their offers of assistance. Outline how each one of them can assist and develop a schedule if appropriate.
3. I’m so alone
You made the tough decision to give up your career and retire early to move in with Dad. You’re glad you did, and your siblings were relieved and appreciated your sacrifice, but you’re feeling isolated and alone. What do you do?
Be brutally honest
You need to tell your siblings how you feel. If you don’t think you can get your message out verbally, send them a note or an email. If they respond positively, ask them for specific ways they can help you.
You could also be surprised: your siblings may have been waiting to hear from you, afraid to seem as
if they were interfering if they offered unsolicited advice.
List the support you need
If your siblings don’t live near you, perhaps they could help you to access in-home or community care resources that would give you some much-needed respite and a chance to reconnect with friends. Asking
them to visit home more frequently and to stay with Dad on the weekends could also be an option.
Get involved in the community
Set up a Facebook account to reconnect with friends and to join local community groups. This makes it easier to find out what is happening in your local community and to schedule coffee or lunch with a friend. Join a local book club or gym.
Check your local newspaper in print or online to find out what’s going on in the community each week.
Despite all your efforts, you may not have been able to achieve a 50/50 share in caregiving responsibilities with your siblings. It could also be the case that even with additional support from your siblings, caring for your older loved one and his or her changing needs has become too much of a responsibility for all of you to share.
The help of a professional Carer can support your older loved one to continue living independently at home as they age.
Contact your local Home Instead office for a free, no-obligation care consultation so you can discuss your needs and provide you with information, advice, care and support to help you and your family find a better home care solution.
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Carer Gateway is an Australian Government program providing free services and support for carers. Call Carer Gateway for support and access to services, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm local time.
Assistance with accessing emergency respite is available any time, 24/7.
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