For the past year or so, you’ve noticed your loved one slipping, but to avoid making waves, you’ve tried to keep your concerns to yourself. Now, you’re seeing obvious signs that the problem is worsening.
The kitchen that used to be spotless is piled high with dirty dishes. There’s very little food in the refrigerator, and the lawn that has always been kept perfectly manicured is popping with weeds. Perhaps most disconcerting is that they appear to be losing weight and their hygiene is suffering.
You try to gently suggest that perhaps they need some help and are met with intense resistance. The answer, plain and simply, is “NO!!!!”
If this sounds familiar, one way to ease your stress is by lowering expectations. Someone who has spent a lifetime being independent is not likely to acquiesce the minute you suggest hiring a helper. They may have feelings of denial and fear and will likely see this as the beginning of the end of their independence. Loss of privacy may cause anxiety, or they may just be uncomfortable with the idea of a stranger in their home. Simply acknowledging these feelings can do wonders for easing their worries.
One Step at a Time
Here are some tips for introducing assistance very gradually so as to allay their fears and reduce push back.
- When hiring a household helper/companion, make sure the person is also trained in personal care services and can assume those duties as time progresses. Be sure to explain this planned progression to potential candidates during the interview process so there are no surprises.
- Initially, introduce the new caregiver as a housekeeper. Your loved one will probably be more apt to accept help with household chores than personal care. Let them assist with defining the helper’s responsibilities. As a relationship and sense of trust develop, they may begin to ask for assistance with other things.
- Present the help as a gift rather than as something that is needed. On the next special occasion, tuck a “gift certificate” for cleaning services inside a card and let them know you thought it was something they would enjoy.
- After a few weeks, ask the helper to call your loved one before arriving to ask if they need anything at the store. When offered as a courteous, helpful gesture, it will likely be appreciated. As the relationship continues to develop, have her suggest bringing ingredients for a simple meal they can prepare and enjoy together.
- Tug at the heartstrings a bit – tell your loved one you would rather spend your time together doing enjoyable things than catching up on household chores. Remind them that you have a job and family as well, so bringing in some assistance for them would actually ease your mind.
- If necessary, solicit help from a geriatric care manager or physician. Trained to objectively assess these situations, these professionals can often present recommendations in a non-threatening manner that your loved one will be comfortable with.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
However you decide to proceed, begin the conversations early and don’t rush things. A gradual introduction is best, so start with short visits and let the relationship develop naturally. You may even want to introduce the helper as a friend who is in need of part time work; frame it as a win-win. Not only will you be helping a friend by hiring her, but doing so will enable you and your loved one to spend more quality time together.
Have you been through this or are you struggling with a similar situation now? Leave us a comment and share your experience.