It’s a common refrain and the bane of many family members: Your loved one is having trouble, yet he or she refuses outside help. This can put your relative at risk. But if the worst happens and things go south, it also ends up making more work for you. Doubly frustrating when you know it could have been prevented.
Rather than battling head on for acceptance, you might try a softer approach:
Build empathy. Ask your loved one what their concerns are. Just listen and try to identify the hot-button issue underneath the reaction:
- Is it an issue of cost? – He or she may not know about Medicare coverage or the actual cost of the service. Your loved one may also underestimate his or her financial resources.
- Is it an issue of control? – Fear that this is the beginning of the end in terms of living independently.
- Is it an issue of privacy? – “My home is my refuge from others.” Or concern about being judged for lifestyle choices.
- Is it an issue of pride? – “I don’t need a babysitter!”
- Is it lack of knowledge (or denial) about their health? – Some people minimize the toll an operation or disease is likely to take.
- Is it an issue of feeling loved? – “My family will take care of me.”
Validate feelings. All of these are valid reactions and worthy of exploration. You might start with, “I hadn’t thought of it that way. I see why you’re concerned….”
Explore thoroughly. Before problem solving, ask more questions. “Tell me more about that. It’s important that I understand.” The more your relative feels “heard” and the more you genuinely comprehend his or her issues, the easier it will be to work together to find a viable solution.
In subsequent articles, we’ll talk about ways to address these concerns with dignity and respect.