When your parent with dementia refuses help, your first reaction might be frustration. Don’t they want help? It may be hard for you to understand, just as it’s hard for them to understand why they need help. Before you get any more frustrated, we have compiled a list of 10 ways to care for a parent with dementia who refuses care. These tips may provide the exact solution you need.
What Can I Do When My Family Member With Dementia Refuses Care?
Caring for a parent with dementia at home can be a tough task. Here are some helpful tips to assist your loved one who refuses help.
1) Maintain a Medication Routine
Building trust and understanding when your parent refuses help is a slow but important process. They may refuse medication because they aren’t able to explain side effects, they don’t understand what the medication is for, or they don’t recognize or trust their caregiver. Start by trying to understand what your parent wants and build a routine off of that. It’ll take patience from you, but it’ll also make giving your loved one their medicine that much easier.
2) Adapt to the Individual’s Personal Hygiene Rituals
The best method of keeping your parent hygienic is to understand their preferences. When your parent with dementia refuses help, ask specific questions such as whether or not they prefer a shower to a bath. Perhaps the water is too warm or too cold. It may not seem like a big deal, but adapting some of your parent’s personal preferences can help them follow a hygiene routine.
3) Encourage the Consumption of Food
To help encourage the consumption of food, offer your parent with dementia a sweet meal. Sweet flavors, such as pudding, sliced fruit, and cereals can help spark their appetite. You should also keep distractions away from the dining room to keep your parent focused on eating. When a person with dementia is refusing care or assistance at lunch or dinner, the source of the issue may be a poor appetite. Encourage your loved one to move around in the morning and afternoon to build a healthy appetite. At no point should you try to force-feed them. This can only make the problem worse.
4) Denial of Dementia
Attempting to convince your parent that they have dementia can lead them to denial. Instead, try to address the problem while not judging their behavior. Offer solutions to the problems and be supportive. For example, if a loved one has trouble managing medications, get them a weekly medication box. When it comes to keeping them safe, you may need to take away certain things such as car keys. Undoubtedly, this will be a major change for someone who enjoys being able to do things independently. Be patient with them as they may become confused or angry.
5) Refusing to Visit the Doctor
If the doctor appointment is not urgent, consider alternatives such as telemedicine. On the other hand, if the upcoming doctor appointment is related to an urgent medical issue, you’ll need to push your loved one about the importance of visiting the doctor. On the other hand, do not push your loved one forcibly. If a parent with dementia is refusing to receive care for urgent medical issues, try asking them why they don’t want to see the doctor. Next, you can address those concerns with compassion and understanding to help your loved one feel better about the appointment.
6) Declining Outside Care By a Caregiver
To help your loved one feel more comfortable or reassured with an outside caregiver, try to stay around for the first few visits. This will help your loved one feel like you aren’t abandoning them. It may take a few tries to find the right caregiver or at least one that your parent likes. So, you should take any complaints that your parent has about the caregiver seriously. But you shouldn’t immediately change caregivers every time your loved one complains, or else you may create a never-ending revolving door.
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7) Try To Comprehend Your Parent’s Point of View
Imagine one day you are living independently, and the next thing you know, you’re being told you have dementia. That’s a scary scenario, but one felt by everyone who has been affected by dementia. When a patient or family member with dementia refuses to go into care, it’s important to put yourself in their shoes. This will help you understand why your family member is angry or nervous. No one wants their independence taken from them, so do your best to show empathy and understanding.
8) Ask Questions to Gain Insights
Simply asking questions can help you understand why your parent with dementia refuses help. These insights can help you address fears and anxiety felt by your loved ones and help you make adjustments to make them feel at ease. Try not to ask accusatory questions such as, “Why are you acting so difficult?” Instead ask, “Could you tell me more about how you feel?”
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9) Recruit a Professional for Help
Although it may sound contradictory to previous points, sometimes a loved one feels more comfortable talking about their problems with a professional or a third party. But this is not limited to nurses, doctors, or social workers. Perhaps an old friend can be part of the conversation for a parent with dementia that is refusing help. Reach out to the childhood friends of your parent or family member. Your mother or father may feel more comfortable talking to a friend about their symptoms and care.
10) Ask Questions in Different Ways
When asking questions to understand your parent’s refusal of help, you may find yourself asking the same questions over and over. Instead, try leaving questions open-ended so that your parent feels like they have more than a yes or no answer. For example, let’s say your loved one keeps complaining about a caregiver. Instead of asking if they want to change caregivers, you should ask what they would prefer that the caregiver did.
How To Maintain a Dementia Patient’s Dignity
Maintaining your loved ones’ dignity can help them feel comfortable with being assisted. When caring for a parent with dementia at home starts to interfere with your day-to-day life, you might lose some patience with them. But you should not let that affect the level of respect you have for their personal preferences.
Respect Personal Style Choices
What you may think looks nice or decent may be far off from what your parent likes to wear. When it comes to picking out clothing for your loved one, offer them options similar to the style of clothes they already own. Do they like to wear a certain article of clothing on specific days or occasions? Options will help your loved one feel as though they still have control over some things in their life. Sometimes too many options can be overwhelming, but you still want to offer them choices. In this situation you might hold up two blouses and ask, “Would you like to wear the red blouse or the blue blouse?”
Sit When Giving an Individual Lunch or Dinner
If your parent needs assistance with eating, please sit with them. The reason your parent with dementia is refusing care or help with meals may be because they feel intimidated when you feed them. Standing over them as you feed them doesn’t invoke the same feeling as sitting with them at eye level. When you level with your loved one, you are conveying a feeling of compassion.
Respect a Family Member’s Music, Television, Sports, & Radio Preferences
Respecting what your loved one likes to watch or listen to can help them feel more dignified. If your parent is watching their favorite program, don’t walk up and change the channel. The sudden change from their favorite show to something unfamiliar might provoke feelings of anger or confusion. Remember that lyrics trigger a different area of the brain so you might try playing their favorite song to encourage positive engagement with your loved one.
Ways To Treat Depression and Anxiety in Patients With Dementia
Among the effects dementia has on a person, depression and anxiety are some of the most prevalent. If you notice your loved one is feeling isolated, sad, or refuses to get out of bed, finding them the proper treatment or care can help reduce these effects. Here are some ways to treat depression and anxiety felt by patients with dementia.
Depression & Anxiety In Dementia Patients
Depression and anxiety associated with dementia can lead your parent to disconnect and disengage in daily activities. In addition, the symptoms of anxiety may cause a dementia patient to refuse care or support. Once your family member becomes disconnected from social interactions, their mental health may start to decline which increases the likelihood of your loved one needing to transition into a care community.
New research on home-delivered dementia therapy has shown some positive results in patients who suffer from anxiety, depression, or mild cognitive impairment. The therapy, called Problem Adaption Therapy or PATH, involves a therapist visiting your parent 12 times weekly. During the sessions, the therapist will ask questions, offer solutions, and build a personalized plan for patients that are refusing care.
Despite there being limited research on psychosocial interventions as a treatment for older adults with depression and anxiety with cognitive impairment, studies have shown it to be the lowest-risk regiment. Several different non-medication treatments, such as psychosocial interventions, can be used as first-line treatments for individuals that are refusing care. Explore your options for care.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Offered at Terra Vista
It can be difficult to provide the proper care for a loved one with dementia on your own. The staff at our Alzheimer’s care facility are well trained in what to do when an individual with dementia refuses care. Through a resident-centered approach, we can deliver your loved one personalized care. We accomplish this by asking about your loved ones’ personal preferences and what their life was like before having dementia. From what they like to eat to what they did for a living, each question helps us develop a customized plan for your parent. We encourage you to take a tour of our facility or head to our website. If you have any questions about the accommodations and Alzheimer’s care programs at our dementia care facility, give our staff a call at (630) 793-0753. See if Terra Vista can be the new place that your loved one calls home.
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