How do you persuade a loved one to accept they need help at home? Our Marketing Manager and former carer Christina Macdonald has some top tips:
When you’re caring for a loved one, it can be a struggle to cope on your own. Sooner or later you and the person you’re caring for will need to accept that more help is needed. I had this experience with my late mum, who had vascular dementia. At first, I could cope with her needs, which were fairly limited in the early stages of her condition. She simply needed someone to help with gardening and housework, which I used to do when I visited, and needed occasional phone call reminders about taking her medication. But as her needs increased, I found it difficult to provide the appropriate level of help and support she required.
It’s a common issue and one that many of us find hard to accept, as we feel we should be looking after the person ourselves. Firstly, don’t feel guilty if you’ve reached the stage where you know can’t do everything on your own. Accept that you will need help to care for the person and don’t feel bad about it. Guilt is a common emotion when you care for a sick person, but feeling guilty won’t change the situation. Once you’ve acknowledged that the person needs more help than you can give, it’s time to find that help and persuade the person to accept the situation.
Whether you choose friends, other family members or a professional carer to come in and provide additional support, it can be difficult to get the person you’re caring for to admit they need more help. It’s important to sit down with them and discuss the situation without being overly bossy or telling them what you think they need. It’s important to listen to their feelings and take their concerns on board. Maybe they are worried you will try to make them move out of their home, or they may be embarrassed to admit they can no longer wash or dress themselves.
Highlight what the person can do for themselves, so that you don’t make them feel helpless, then go on to say that life would be a bit easier if they had some additional support. You could say that having help will enable them to go out more, socialise and meet new friends, especially if they are struggling to go to the shops on their own.
Do your research before you have the conversation. Make sure you know what options are available. Talk these options through and if possible, let the person decide what sort of help they would prefer.
Position carers as friends. When I arranged for a carer to come in and look after my mum, I made sure that I referred to the carer as a friend and didn’t talk about how she would be looking after mum. I would say: ‘Michelle is popping in for a cup of a tea and a chat on her way home from work’, rather than say: ‘Michelle is coming in to make you dinner’. I introduced Michelle as a housekeeper rather than a carer. This makes it easier for the person to accept help and allows them to build a relationship with the carer gradually.
If you’re encouraging the person to have someone to help with housework, you could list the benefits. Rather than telling the person they can’t cope and the house isn’t very clean (never do this), explain that having someone to help with household chores will give the person more time for other activities.
Make sure the person feels like you have listened to them, and taken their concerns on board. Introducing help gradually is key too. With mum, we started off by having a cleaner once a week, but that increased to twice a week and then I introduced a gardener and odd-job man. By the time mum needed a carer to help with personal care, she had already had already adapted to having help around the house. You might even want to introduce short visits from a carer before the person has got to the stage of needing help with personal care. This enables them to get to know the person first before the carer is helping them with personal tasks like showering and getting dressed.