6 Comments

When Parents Refuse Help

noFour years ago, I wrote about how common it is for parents to refuse help from their children.

We all noticed that mom and dad were failing and very concerned for their safety as well as for the safety of others. Twice, all of my siblings flew in and we had a meal and shared our concerns with our parents. They deflected, delayed, and ignored our concerns.

Just last year, I learned that there is a medical term (Anosognosia) that describes the inability for someone with a cognitive issue to recognize they need help. Looking back, there are several things I would have done differently, but it took time to understand and adapt. Ultimately, I learned that I had to change because my parents could not.

Know that the first thing to recognize, especially for a mature individual, is that meaning and purpose is vital to their feelings of self-worth. While it might be easier to do something for them, can you do it with them?

Ultimately, I spent the first year plus being watchful and helping out when I could. I had to wait until their was a critical incident to be able to cultivate the change in my relationship with my parents so I could help. There was a broken hip, a stroke, and then the threat of being kicked out of their retirement community.

As a sandwich generation caregiver, I was constantly trying to plug the leaky holes in my parent’s life boat while raising two kids at home. I hope you will find this blog and the services of MemoryBanc can help make this journey easier for you.

If you have a question or hit a roadblock and want a suggestion, I’m happy to help make your journey easier. Use this link to see my schedule and set up a free 30-minute phone conversation. Offered. 

6 comments on “When Parents Refuse Help

  1. This really resonated with me: “Know that the first thing to recognize, especially for a mature individual, is that meaning and purpose is vital to their feelings of self-worth. While it might be easier to do something for them, can you do it with them?”

    I remember slicing a banana for dad’s cereal and he looked at me and asked, “Am I really so helpless, now?” I felt terrible. I handed him the banana and he sliced it himself – and was able to do this task for many months. It really made me stop to consider in what other ways I was de-skilling him.

  2. Hi Mary – It became easy to recognize but in some ways made the caregiver task more daunting. I already felt overwhelmed but knew my “get it done” attitude needed to be parked outside and not included on my visits.

  3. Thanks, Kay and Mary for sharing. A good reminder not to de-skill my mother-in-law. An interesting observation though, she is in a nursing home and often said she showers on her own while the nurses mentioned she needed help to shower. When we visit her, she wants us to do things for her like pouring her a cup of water which is within her reach; throw away her used tissues in the bin for example. Wonder is she feeling unloved because she is staying in the nursing home.

    • I agree with Kay when she says if your mum-in-law asks you to do things for her, then do them. Everyone is so different and I always felt that as caregivers we were always one step behind in learning things at each new phase we encountered.

  4. I like to post this to the readers to see if they have some thoughts. Let me know if you are okay with that.

    In the meantime, everyone is sooo different. My mom didn’t want the staff at the Assisted Living community or her part time aide to help her shower, but she would let me “make sure she didn’t slip” and I left the door open and handed her soap and washcloth and was there with a towel when she was done. My mom would never ask for help. If she asks for it and seems grateful, I’d say help her. When my mom’s dementia progressed, she appreciated EVERYTHING that was done to help her.

    Let me know if you are okay with me posing to the other readers to see if they have suggestions.

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