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When Parent with Dementia Refuses Help – How to Handle this Difficult Situation?

parent with dementia refuses help

One of the most challenging situations for a caregiver is when the Dementia patient refuses help. It can be frustrating, especially when you feel like they are not giving you a chance to speak your mind and they are not being completely honest with themselves. This article will guide you through ways to help a Dementia patient accept help.

Understanding Dementia

Dementia is a syndrome that affects thinking, memory, judgment, and behavior. Dementia is usually the second stage of brain aging and occurs mostly in older adults.

Dementia can affect the ability to function independently or perform daily activities. People with dementia may have trouble remembering things, recalling who they are or where they live, acting out inappropriately, or becoming easily threatened. Many people with dementia do not realize they have lost their memory until they try to do something and fail. They may not be aware of the changes in their speech patterns and body movements, either – many common everyday events can go unnoticed because of forgetfulness before dementia sets in.

At this time, your presence as a family caregiver may be greatly needed. You may feel like a babysitter or child care provider as you watch over them, but it is vital to remember that it is your role to help this person continue living. When your elderly parent has had Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, they may not be able to communicate their needs, and this can cause them great anxiety.

So, how do you approach such a person with the intent of helping them? Here are some suggestions:

What To Do If Senior Loved One Has Dementia?

helping a senior with dementia
  1. Understand The Complications Of Dementia
  2. Help Them Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
  3. Safety-proofing Your Loved One’s Home
  4. Lending Your Hand With Chores
  5. Scheduling In-Home Caregivers to Visit Their Home

These are the ideal ways for you to help your loved one realize that they are safe and have support, but what do you do if your loved one refuses help entirely?

When Your Elderly Parent Refuses Help

Often, elderly parents with dementia want to maintain their independence and lifestyle. Because they have spent years doing things independently, it’s difficult to acknowledge their needs and receive assistance. As a family caregiver, you may find yourself in a difficult situation when parents with dementia refuse to accept your assistance. But you must always remember that there are always ways to help your elderly parent accept your help no matter how difficult the situation is.

Wellness Home Care understands your struggles as a family caregiver; that’s why we craft this article to help guide you through the best ways to help your elderly parent accept help and advice.

This article will cover the areas where most caregivers find themselves stuck in helping their parents with dementia accept help. We will cover a few of the most common areas in that an older adult with dementia may refuse help and provide ideas on how to handle this situation.

1. Refusing Medication

parent with dementia refuses help

Often, the caregiver helping someone with dementia discovers that the patient refuses to take medications. Here are the reasons why it could be happening:

  • The senior is experiencing side effects but cannot explain it to the caretaker
  • Senior can be feeling better without the treatment and decides medicine is no longer needed
  • Aging parents do not understand what the medication is for
  • Senior is having trouble swallowing the pills
  • Older Adult does not recognize or trust the caregiver

If the elderly parent refuses their medication, you can always bring up the topic with them. Try saying, “Mom or Dad, I know you don’t like taking your pills. You’re not doing it right now, but if you’re ever feeling sick, I want you to take them.”

If this doesn’t work, then explain that you are worried about them and want them to be able to care for themselves in case of an emergency. Explain that parents need to take their medications because they will feel bad and wouldn’t be able to care for themselves properly without them.

2. Refusing Food

As a caregiver, you can offer your elderly parent more food if they refuse their regular meal times. Make sure you don’t make them eat too much at once. Remember to use the phrase, “Mom or Dad, I know you’re not hungry right now, but I want you to have something to eat in case we’re ever out for a long time.” You can also bring up topics such as if you went out and the restaurants closed early, or there was a storm, and they ran out of food. It will make your older adult feel like they are always prepared for any event that may take place.

Some reasons why elderly parent refuses help

  • A person with advancing dementia ceases to distinguish between salty, sour, and bitter tastes; they tend not to like or refuse food. But the last sense to get dull is the perception of sweetness so try to offer or use sweet flavors to awaken an elderly’s appetite for food: sweet puddings, fruits, and cereal with berries are the best foods to offer.
  • Another reason is they may have difficulties using cutlery due to weak hands or lack of coordination. In order to help your loved ones, you may have to feed them by spoon or fork. Another way to help them eat meals is to sit with them at the table while they eat. This will allow them to see you and allow you to keep an eye on how they are doing.

3. Refusing To Take A Rest

refusing to take a rest

Most caregivers find it very difficult when their elderly parent refuses to go and sit down when they need a break. It can be frustrating for the caregiver when their elderly parent won’t take time out of their day to rest. One good way to deal with this is by bringing up topics such as illness or infections. You may remind them of an illness that they have had in the past and ask if it’s still a problem for them now. Or you could bring up the fact that they’ve been working too hard lately, and it may be helpful for them to take a break and rest for a bit. Remind them that they will be more comfortable if they rest in a chair for a little while after a long day.

4. Adapt To Your Loved Ones Personal Hygiene Rituals

Refusing to wash or shower each day may seem like a minor issue, but it can become very difficult for the caregiver if the older adult refuses to have any routine. The best method of keeping your elderly loved one hygienic is to understand their preferences. 

When your elderly parent with dementia refuses assistance, ask specific questions like whether or not they prefer a shower to a bath. Maybe the water is too cold or too warm. It may not seem like a huge deal, but adapting some of your elderly parent’s personal preferences can help them follow a good hygiene routine.

5. Refusal To Visit Doctor

refusal to visit doctor

As a primary caregiver, you may find that your elderly parent starts to refuse all health care services. In this case, you will have to explain that they need to see the doctor in case of an emergency. It is important for them to keep up with their health, preventing serious conditions like dehydration or even stroke. Refusal to visit a doctor is quite common among those who have declining mental health. 

Some of the reasons parents refuse treatment:

  • Fear of the unknown. Some people with dementia have a fear of hospitals or doctors. If they have visited their doctor in the past, they may become fearful if they have to go again.
  • Denial of health issues due to fear of diagnosis
  • Genuine disbelief in the severity of their case
  • Lack of trust due to communication issues. It can be difficult for your elderly parent with dementia to fully comprehend what is happening to them and what you mean when it comes to health care terms and treatments. This can result in them not accepting any type of health care.

If an elderly parent with dementia refuses help, you must be careful in how you suggest a visit to the doctor.

Here are some tips:

  • Seize The Chance: If an elderly state that it has been difficult to remember things lately try suggesting a check-up with a friendly approach. You can tell her that there are certain medications that the doctor can prescribe if he finds them needed.
  • Real-Life Examples: Try coming up with life examples related to a similar concern. Speak of how other seniors received help and felt better.
  • Personal Favor: You can try asking your parent to visit the physician as a personal favor.
  • Friendly Advice: Try to ask a relative or friend to discuss this matter with your parent. Sometimes seniors are more prone to listen to the opinion and concerns of someone other than their family caregiver.
  • Personalize: Your elderly parent with dementia may not comprehend certain medical terms, so always explain things in simple language.

How to Get Help for an Elderly Parent with Dementia

parent with dementia refuses help

It can be difficult and emotional to care for a parent with dementia. When your loved one refuses help, it can make things even more challenging. Many caregivers don’t know how to deal with dementia, let alone a parent with dementia who is resistant to care.

If you are unsure how to care for a parent with dementia or handle a parent with dementia who refuses help, don’t panic. Connecting with a professional is one of the most helpful steps to providing quality care for your loved one.

Wellness Home Care has professionally trained caregivers who are able to visit your elderly parent’s home. Our personal care assistants are sensitive to the needs of your elderly parent and will take time to understand their preferences; it is important for all caregivers to understand the preferences of elderly loved ones, especially if they have dementia. 

Personal Care Assistants can help an elderly parent with dementia feel safe and secure by acting as a buffer between you, and your senior loved one. This way, you can get things done without worrying about your loved one getting upset or angry.

The Takeaway

If you are dealing with someone who has dementia and they happen to be refusing help, you should keep in mind the tips provided here. It is impossible to force someone to agree with your point of view, and you should never lose sight of your goal; if that person is your parent, then the goal is to keep them safe and healthy. If you can do everything possible for an elderly parent with dementia, whether or not they cooperate, then you are one step closer to providing quality care for them.

These tips are based on a combination of personal experiences from working in the health care field and advice from our team of caregivers and registered nurses.

If you are looking for a professional caregiver to help take care of your elderly loved ones, please contact us. Wellness Home Care is a home care agency with highly-trained caregivers who are available to assist you and your family.