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When seniors say 'no'

Seniors will retreat into a cocoon of isolation if they fear losing their independence.
Seniors will retreat into a cocoon of isolation if they fear losing their independence.

ALL members of the community deserve freedom of choice, the elderly included.

But when it comes to deciding where and how to live, few seniors will ask for help despite a need for it.

As we age, frailty, injury, illness or medical conditions can make everyday living and tasks more difficult and assistance becomes a necessity.

Home Instead Senior Care Maroochydore director Cheryl Robert said many elderly people were hesitant to ask for help, seeing it as a sign of their independence being eroded or in fear of burdening family members.

Ms Robert said if elderly people wanted to continue living at home, it was important for family members to support their decision but it was also crucial for the family to understand that offering to provide extra help could create conflict.

To help families approach the touchy subject and raise public awareness of the importance of giving the elderly a say in their future, Home Instead has launched its When Seniors Say "No!" campaign.

As part of the initiative, the following strategies were listed to help concerned family members approach the issue and overcome resistance to care.

1. Understand where the resistance is coming from. Ask your parent or loved one why he or she is resisting. "Mum, every time I bring up the idea of someone coming to help, you resist it. Why is that?" Often older adults don't realise they are being resistant.

2. Explain your goals. Remind your loved one that you both want the same thing. Explain that a little extra help can keep them at home longer and will help put your mind at ease as well. Have a candid conversation with them about the impact this care is having on your life.

Often seniors don't understand the time commitment of a caregiver.

3. Bring in outside help. If a relationship with a parent is deteriorating, ask a professional, such as an aged care professional, for an assessment. A third-party professional can provide valuable input. You can visit homeinstead.com.au/resources/ for tips on how to talk with a loved one. If you are having problems getting through to your older adult, consider asking another family member or close friend to intervene.

4. Research your options. To find the best resources for your loved one visit agedcareaustralia.gov.au to research resources in your community or go to homeinstead.com.au and click on the resources tab. If you decide outside help is needed, reassure your parents and tell them you have researched caregivers.

5. Respect your parent's decisions. Sometimes you won't agree. As long as your loved one is of sound mind, he or she should have the final say. Involve the senior in the planning for their care.

Don't make unilateral decisions unless the senior really does not have the mental capacity (e.g. Alzheimer's) to participate in his/her own lifestyle decisions. If the senior is still resistant, but is a danger to himself/herself, consult a lawyer about taking steps for becoming a guardian and having an enduring power of attorney so that you can make decisions on their behalf.

Ten signs a senior needs assistance

1. Unpaid bills piling up

2. Reluctance to leave the house. Rather than ask for help, seniors having trouble, e.g. walking, remembering directions, seeing or hearing, will isolate themselves.

3. Losing interest in preparing or eating meals - poor eating habits include: improper selection of food in the house (not well-balanced), expired or rotten food in the fridge or signs of excessive weight loss.

4. Declining personal hygiene - changes in appearance are the most obvious sign that some assistance is needed.

5. Declining driving skills

6. Burnt pots and pans - a sign of short-term memory loss or onset of Alzheimer's, as cooking pots used are forgotten on the stove and burn.

7. Symptoms of depression

8. Missed doctors' appointments and engagements

9. Untidy house - housekeeping may be too difficult or tiring.

10. Losing track of medications

Source: Home Instead

Topics:  aged care elderly people


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