What to Do When Mom or Dad Don't Recognize the Need for Care
I get calls about this all the time. 95% of clients do not recognize that they may need help with activities of daily living, or need someone with them to ensure personal safety. Why? Consider this, you have lived a long productive life, you have worked for over 60-70 years to support yourself and your family. You may have raised a family, financed a home, built a home, traveled, maybe you owned your own business. No matter the circumstances, you were successful and self reliant, so depending on someone is the last thing you thought about.
Fast forward and now you are in your 60's-90's and someone is telling you that "you cannot be alone", "you need someone to come into your home to help with bathing and dressing", or "Dad needs a break, you need to go to a day program."
How did we end up here?
For the most part, by the time that call is made to a home care company, or to a day program, mom or dad has a certain level of dementia, or physical impairment, which is driving family to try to find outside help. The problem is, that the person needing help is not entirely capable of seeing themselves in the category of "needy". Even with dementia, the self sustaining prophecy of independence, pride and autonomy does not leave. In fact, its almost as if people with dementia remember those days FAR MORE than present day situation where they ARE dependent. Because of this, I encourage families and care givers to meet the elder where they are at.
When I talk to families on the phone, most will say "They don't not recognize that they need help, how am I going to convince them?" Here is what I often say, so that you can use these tactics at home. Keep in mind, this is a work in progress...sometimes it take a few tries. Sometimes its all in the wording, often its all about finding the right care giver and often it means finding the right medication to help with extreme sun-downing symptoms (one example):
Try not to force the situation, but rather explain that "you (as the child) are concerned about safety, and "FOR YOU" would they please accept a companion a few hours a week to try it out?" Many parents will accept help just on this basis alone. They will do anything to relieve the stress of their children.
Involve outside influences:
If memory is an issue, ask PCP to get a neuro-psych test done. This is an extensive memory test that can determine how impaired your loved on is. A report is generated and results are explained in detail to the elder. This takes the responsibility off the child
Make an appt to PCP. Notify PCP before appt, that you want a brief memory test done in the office because you are concerned about safety. Any PCP should be able to do a quick 15 min memory test to determine if mom/dad should accept some help. Often, when recommendations come from a medical professional, its heard/accepted more readily.
Contact your local AAA (area agency on aging). The greater Northampton area is covered by Highland Valley Elder Services. (413)586-2000. Ask for their intake and referral dept. They will ask several questions to determine eligibility. They often send out a case manager who can talk to mom or dad about accepting a few hours a week to help with housework, laundry, shopping, cooking. Sometimes that's a great place to start if they need just a couple hours, a couple days a week.
Contact any local day program and ask them to do a free trial. Sometimes all that's needed, is to experience how good it feels to get out of the house and be social with people in the same situation they are!
I hope this helps, but if it does not, feel free to contact me by email or phone for more guidance.
Best wishes for A BRAND NEW YEAR!