Recently, I received an email from a woman who is the sole family caregiver of her elderly mother. I could hear the desperation in her email and honestly, my heart went out to her.
Here’s what she wrote…
I’m at my wit’s end. Mom is getting older and she refuses to take care of herself. She won’t see the doctor, won’t take her medications, and won’t eat right. I’m worried about her health and I don’t know what to do.
I’ve tried talking to her, begging her, and even threatening her, but nothing works. I’m afraid that she’s going to end up seriously ill or worse if something doesn’t change. I don’t know what else to do. Has anyone else dealt with this? What did you do?
I’m desperate for help. Thanks.
It’s difficult to understand her situation unless you’ve been through it yourself. But if you can relate to what she is going through, then this article may be helpful for you (and your mother or aging parent).
As adult children, we often find ourselves in the position of having to care for our aging parents.
This can be a difficult and emotionally fraught task, especially if our parents are resistant to receiving help. If your mother is refusing to take care of herself, it can be worrisome and frustrating.
It’s not uncommon for some older people to neglect their personal hygiene or to stop taking care of themselves. Often, this is a result of a decline in physical or mental health.
It can be frustrating and even distressing to witness, but it’s important to remember that your mother most likely is not doing this on purpose.
In this article , we’ll explore some of the possible reasons why your mother may be resistant to taking care of herself, and offer some suggestions for how you can best support her and take care of yourself.
Table of Contents
Why Is Your Mother Acting This Way?
So, how exactly do you deal with this problem?
As always, when it comes to dealing with human beings, the answer can be different for most everyone. It all boils down to “WHY” is your mother or parent behaving this way?
- Have they always been a bit stubborn? Well then, I’m sorry to say that this probably won’t change.
- Are they suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? Personalities often do change drastically because of these illnesses.
- Are they living with chronic pain? Anyone who has felt pain for any length of time can probably understand how frustrating and difficult it can be so sure, it’s easy to become belligerent.
- Are they depressed? Depression and other mental health issues can greatly impact someone’s will to do anything, even care for themselves.
- Are they having a hard time taking care of themselves? It may take them too much time to shower and dress. (My 100 year old mom-in-law complains about this often.)
- It’s also possible that your mother is acting this way as a coping mechanism. Maybe she feels that she can’t control her own life any longer and doesn’t know how to cope in a healthy way, so she’s lashing out instead.
There are so many issues that old people face – from declining health to social isolation. It’s important to try and have empathy and understand where your mother is coming from before you can even begin to help her.
How Do You Deal With A Parent Who Won’t Take Care Of Themselves?
Still, no matter the “why”, it still can be difficult to deal with a parent who won’t take care of themselves. You may feel like you are constantly taking on the role of caretaker, and this can be overwhelming and frustrating.
Here are some tips for dealing with a parent who won’t take care of themselves:
1. Speak with their doctor about this issue. He or she may be able to help you understand what your mother (or parent) is going through. If it is an illness or chronic pain or even depression, your doctor may be able to help.
It may be that the medical care your parent is receiving isn’t adequate. In this case, your doctor may be able to help you find a better care plan or make recommendations for other treatments.
2. Talk to your parent (if you are able to) about their refusal to take care of themselves. It is important to try to understand why they are refusing to take care of themselves. There may be a reason behind their decision, and it is important to be respectful of their wishes.
However, you should also express your concerns and explain how their refusal to take care of themselves is affecting you.
3. Offer to help your parent with their self-care. If your parent is refusing to take care of themselves, offer to help out. This may include things like helping them bathe, getting them dressed, or cooking for them.
Letting them know that you are willing to help can be a motivator for them to start taking better care of themselves.
4. Get help from other family members or professionals. You may want to consider reaching out to a social worker or a geriatric care manager. These healthcare professionals can provide you with valuable resources and support, and can help connect you with other families who are in similar situations.
They can also offer advice on how to best communicate with your parent about their needs and how to get them the help they need.
5. Seek the help from support groups. You are not the only person dealing with an elderly parent who is not caring for themselves. Learn from others who are going through a similar situation.
This can provide you with some valuable insight and advice on how to deal with your parent.
6. If your parent is of sound mind, accept that you cannot force your parent to take care of themselves. They are ultimately in charge of their own choices and their own home.
You can only offer your support and love, and hope that they will eventually come to a decision that is best for their health and well being.
It’s important to try and maintain a sense of peace of mind, even when it feels like everything is spiraling out of control. This can be difficult to do, but it’s essential for keeping your sanity intact.
Remember that you can’t control everything, and sometimes the best you can do is to take a step back and breathe. This too shall pass.
What To Do If Your Parent Is Not Taking Care Of Themselves?
So, what are some other things that you can do if your parent is not taking care of themselves?
1. Do some research
Once you’ve spoken with their doctor and have some information about their medical condition, go ahead and do some research on your own.
Doing all you can to understand what is happening, and how it may progress can help to ease the stress of the situation for yourself.
2. Talk to other family members or friends
If you’re struggling to have a conversation with your parent, talking to other family members or friends can be helpful.
They may be able to provide insights into your parent’s behavior or offer support in having the conversation.
3. Speak to an elder law attorney
If you are struggling to care for an elderly parent who refuses assistance, it may be time to consult with an elder law attorney. They can help you understand your legal options and rights, and provide guidance on how to best proceed.
You may have to take over your parents’ financial decisions and other issues. You may have to deal with adult protective services.
So, an attorney would be good to contact for your parent’s safety and your own.
4. Connect them with resources
There are many resources available to help people who are struggling to take care of themselves. There may be local organizations that can provide assistance, and there are also national resources available.
A family therapist or counselor may be able to help you cope with the situation as well.
5. Seek professional help
If you’ve tried all of the above and your parent is still not taking care of themselves, it may be time to seek professional help. This could include talking to a doctor, care managers or mental health professionals.
It may be possible that your elderly mother (or other parent) may require in-home care, assisted living facility, or even nursing home care. These are all difficult decisions to make, but sometimes they are necessary in order to ensure that your parent is getting the care they need.
If it comes to it, social services may have to step in to check on the conditions that your parent is living in and to ensure that they are receiving the care they need. This should be a last resort, but it may be necessary if all other options have failed.
What Are The Signs Of Decline In The Elderly?
One of the many things that I learned as an Occupational Therapist was that most often, family members did not notice the signs of decline in their elderly loved ones.
There are many factors that go into this, family dynamics, co-dependency, number of siblings, distance from the elderly family member, etc. But the most important factor is simply that change is gradual.
The human brain is very good at adaptation. So, when changes occur gradually, we don’t notice them as much. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the signs of decline in the elderly,
The realization that a loved one can no longer fully care for himself or herself can be painful for family members. When the boundlessly energetic grandmother or tough-as-nails dad a person grew up with is no longer able to take care of themselves in the most basic ways, it can conjure up a whole range of feelings-sadness about their loved one’s advanced age, worries about who will care for their family member, and even fears about their own mortality.medcominc.com
Whatever it is, don’t be alarmed if your friends and other family members begin to tell you that your elderly mother and/or father are declining. You may not see it, but take a moment and listen to what others are telling you.
There are many signs that can indicate that someone is beginning to experience a decline in their health. However, it’s important to remember that not all of these signs necessarily mean that someone is ill or going to become ill.
Some of them may simply be indicative of the aging process.
That said, there are certain signs that may be more indicative of a decline in health, and it’s important to be aware of them so that you can seek medical help if necessary.
Here are some of the most common signs of decline in the elderly:
- Increased fatigue or tiredness.
- Decreased appetite or weight loss.
- Changes in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty falling asleep or waking up frequently during the night.
- Poor decision making.
- Increased confusion or forgetfulness.
- Decreased ability to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, or eating.
- Slower movement or balance problems.
- Personality changes such as becoming angrier or moodier, etc.
- Messy house, unwashed dishes, piles of unwashed laundry, etc.
- Frequent falls.
- Change in mobility such as problem using stairs or picking up something from the floor.
- Unexplained bruises on their body.
- Persistent pain.
At the end of the day, it’s important to be aware of any changes in your elderly loved ones. If you notice any of the above changes, be sure to talk to their doctor. Addressing decline early is important for maintaining quality of life.
What Causes Functional Decline In The Elderly?
There are many factors that can contribute to functional decline in the elderly. These include physical limitations, chronic health conditions, cognitive impairment, and social isolation.
Physical limitations are often the result of declining muscle mass and strength. This can make it difficult to perform everyday activities such as bathing, dressing, and cooking. Chronic health conditions can also lead to functional decline.
Conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes can make it difficult to move around and complete daily tasks.
Cognitive impairment can also cause functional decline. This can include problems with memory, decision making, and executive functioning. Many older adults experience some cognitive decline as they age, but those with more severe impairments may have difficulty with activities of daily living.
Depression is another factor that can contribute to functional decline. Depression can make it difficult to find the motivation to perform self-care tasks or participate in other activities. Additionally, depression can lead to isolation, which can further compound the problem.
There are many potential causes of functional decline in older adults. Some of the most common include:
- Cognitive decline
- Chronic health conditions
- Medication side effects
- Poor nutrition
Many of these causes are interrelated, and addressing one can often have a positive impact on the others. For example, improving nutrition can help to reduce the effects of chronic health conditions, and increasing activity levels can help to improve mood and cognitive function.
If you are concerned about functional decline in yourself or a loved one, it is important to talk to a doctor or other healthcare provider. They can help to assess the situation and develop a plan of care that includes lifestyle changes, therapy, and other interventions as needed.
Functional decline is a common issue in the elderly population, but it does not have to be an inevitable part of aging. By understanding the causes and taking steps to address them, many people can maintain their independence and quality of life as they age.
How Do You Help An Elderly Person Who Doesn’t Want Help?
If you have an elderly loved one who is resistant to getting help, it can be a frustrating and difficult situation. You may feel like you’re trying to do everything yourself, or that your loved one is just being stubborn.
There are a few things you can keep in mind that may help make the situation more manageable.
First, try to understand why your loved one doesn’t want help. It may be a pride issue, or they may be worried about losing their independence. If you can get to the root of the problem, it may be easier to find a solution.
It’s also important to remember that your loved one is an adult and should be treated as such. They should have a say in what kind of help they receive, and how much.
If they’re resistant to getting help from professional caregivers, see if there are other options available, such as having a friend or family member come over to provide assistance.
Most importantly, be patient and understanding. It may take some time for your loved one to come around to the idea of getting help, but eventually they’ll realize that it’s in their best interest.
How Do You Convince An Elderly Person To Get Help?
There are a few things you can do to convince an elderly person to get help.
First, try to have a conversation with them about their health and why you think they need help. Explain that you’re worried about them and want to make sure they’re taking care of themselves.
You can also offer to help them with anything they need, such as groceries or doctor’s appointments.
If they continue to resist any help, you can try contacting their family or friends to see if they can talk to the elderly person about getting assistance.
Ultimately, though, it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not to seek help. If they’re not ready to do so, there’s not much you can do except be supportive and understanding.
How Do You Get Your Elderly Parents Evaluated?
If you’re concerned about your elderly parents’ safety, you may be wondering how to get them evaluated. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to do this.
One option is to contact their primary care physician. This is often the first step in getting an evaluation, as the doctor can assess whether there are any health concerns that need to be addressed. They can also refer you to other specialists if necessary.
Another option is to contact an elderly care facility. Many of these facilities offer assessments and can provide resources if needed.
You can also contact organizations like the National Institute on Aging or organizations related to any issues your parents are living with.
These organizations can provide information about how to get an evaluation and can connect you with resources in your area.
Once you’ve gathered the information on how to get an evaluation, the next step is to actually schedule one. Talk to your doctor about scheduling it.
The evaluation itself will vary depending on who is conducting it. However, it will generally involve a physical examination, a cognitive test, and an interview with you and/or your loved ones.
After the evaluation is complete, the results will be discussed with you. From there, a plan can be developed to help your elderly parent manage their condition. This may include medication, therapy, or other interventions.
If you’re concerned about your elderly parent’s cognitive decline, don’t hesitate to get them evaluated. It’s the best way to ensure that they receive the help they need to remain healthy and independent.
How Is An Elderly Person Declared Incompetent?
There are a few different ways that an elderly person can be declared incompetent. The most common way is through a court order. This usually happens when someone close to the elderly person, such as a family member or friend, petition the court to have them declared incompetent.
Another way that an elderly person can be declared incompetent is through a medical evaluation. This is often done if the elderly person is showing signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
A doctor will evaluate the person and determine if they are competent to make their own decisions.
Lastly, an elderly person can be declared incompetent by a power of attorney. This is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to make decisions on behalf of the elderly person. This is often used when the elderly person can no longer make their own decisions.
If an elderly person is declared incompetent, it means that they are no longer able to make their own decisions.
This can be a difficult thing for family and friends to accept, but it is important to remember that this is in the best interest of your elderly loved one.
Some Resources That May Help
This kindle book may help family caregivers cope with a difficult elderly parent.
Another kindle book with information on maneuvering through the difficult times with a difficult aging parent.
A popular book for adult children on how to cope with their senior loved ones.