What Do You Do When a Senior Does Not Want a Caregiver But Needs One?

I have received many a phone call over the last 18 years from distressed family members who have a dilemma. They know that their loved one needs a caregiver but they are refusing the help. Many reasons come into play such as the fear of using up their monetary resources, which may or may not be a legitimate concern. Others are fearful of losing their independence, privacy, or self image. Others, unfortunately, are plagued by dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive impairments and are not able to make rational decisions but still can adamantly resist. How do we balance these concerns with the obvious fact that extra help is imperative and necessary to maintain the individual in their home? How do we ultimately gain their compliance and acceptance of a caregiver in their home?

Many wealthy people have throughout history hired individuals to care for their every need. They do so without any concern about relinquishing their independence, privacy or self image. In fact it may be considered an entitlement based on their position in life. If a caregiver is needed it would be considered a natural necessity and there would not be any hesitation to hire one. Is the fear of losing one’s independence, privacy or self image a product of one’s economic class? If so, how do we circumvent this? If the senior in question realistically has enough money to support a caregiver, how do we convince them of this fact? How do we rationalize with an individual who may not be completely rational?

Many questions and perhaps some answers. There are different strategies that may be implemented. The first one is to have an authority figure who states that under no uncertain terms that a caregiver is necessary. This may be a doctor, a nurse, a spouse, a lawyer, a social worker, physical therapist etc. The senior may take their edict more seriously and be willing to comply. The next strategy is to reassure the senior that this is a temporary situation and with time the need will not be as great. After experiencing proper assistance, the senior may realize themselves how lovely and necessary it is to have companionship and care. Another strategy that some families employ with regards to financing care is not to divulge the full cost of the care. They allow the senior to partially pay the cost while they supplement the rest. Yet another strategy is to tell the senior that the caregiver is there to help another family member with household chores and activities and is not there for the senior per se.

I understand that it may not be comfortable for many families to employ these methods. I do believe in these cases the end does justify the means in the respect that we have legitimate safety issues to be concerned about here. I am also positive that there may be other ways to address these issues. I would love to hear about your thoughts.