Stubborn seniors: 10 ways to navigate communicating with strong-willed loved ones

Stubborn seniors

Effective strategies for communicating with elderly loved ones

Even with thorough family planning, implementing a care plan for seniors can involve resistance, especially when older adults hesitate to seek assistance, fearing the loss of independence or becoming a burden to their families. If you find yourself in the position of looking after stubborn seniors who are avoiding asking for help, we’ve got you covered with a list of strategies to address resistance and foster cooperation in caring for elderly loved ones.

Understand the reasons for resistance in stubborn seniors

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. Sometimes simply opening up the conversation can be enough to get to the bottom of the issue with stubborn seniors. Having a candid conversation with your loved one over exactly why they’re opposing help should be the first step you take when dealing with a stubborn senior.

Communicate shared goals with stubborn seniors

It’s important that you communicate your shared goals of helping to maintain independence and enhancing the quality of life of your loved one. Clearly articulate the positive impact that additional help can have, addressing the concerns of your loved one and emphasising the need for cooperation. Often, stubborn seniors 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.”

Stubborn seniors

Use external support

If relationships are strained, seek a professional assessment from an aged care expert.

Utilize third-party input to navigate challenges and explore external resources. Another option if you are having problems getting through to the person you’re caring for is to ask another family member or close friend to intervene. Sometimes you won’t agree with the decisions of your older loved one – and 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 one-sided 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 can make decisions on your loved one’s behalf when they are incapable of doing so themselves.

Research care options

Reassure your loved one by showcasing thorough research on available care options.

Demonstrate confidence in selecting the best carer to ensure a smooth transition and continued independent living.

Respect autonomy

Acknowledge and respect the autonomy of stubborn seniors, by recognising their right to make informed decisions about their care. Consult legal assistance if necessary, ensuring appropriate steps are taken when resistance poses a danger to their well-being.

Sibling struggles

Organize a meeting with siblings so that you can address challenges together and share responsibilities. It’s important that you recognize that each of you may hold a different opinion as to what is best for your loved one. Try to find common ground, and emphasize the importance of effective communication and understanding.

Overworked career: navigating burnout and seeking assistance

If you’re feeling burnt out, it’s essential that you express your needs and concerns to those around you. Establish a clear support structure, including scheduled breaks through respite care or involving additional family members.

Control battles: fostering collaboration among siblings

Embrace the 50/50 rule, encouraging siblings to share caring responsibilities. Foster open communication to prevent control struggles and go a long way towards strengthening family bonds.

Communicating personal needs

Promote honest communication with those around you if you’re feeling isolated. Compile a list of specific support needs, encouraging other family members to contribute to the care plan effectively.

Professional intervention

Acknowledge when caring responsibilities become overwhelming and consider professional support.

Navigating resistance in senior care plans requires a compassionate and collaborative approach. By implementing these strategies and seeking external support when needed, families can create a supportive environment that promotes the well-being of both carers and their elderly loved ones.

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