You spend a good portion of your time and energy working to minimize your loved one’s struggles. So when they decline professional help that could increase their independence (and your free time) you’re entitled to feel frustrated.
Whether they refuse much-needed physical or emotional help, or fail to follow through on professional advice, here’s how you, their caregiver, can make things better–for both of you.
Bearing the burden of a loved one’s struggles is difficult, and even moreso when your loved one pushes back against getting help. You may find yourself wondering why your loved one wouldn’t want assistance that might improve their life–for their own sake, or even for yours. You may feel frustrated, disheartened, or even hurt by their resistance. It may feel like you just can’t reach common ground.
In these times, it helps to remember that you and your loved one do have something really important in common: you both want the best for each other and for yourselves.
With that in mind, it’s likely that your loved one has their own reasons for resisting help. Their behavior likely doesn’t come from a personal frustration with you, but from some well-intentioned logic. For instance, they may feel hesitant as to whether the suggested care will actually help. They may feel seen as a burden which you’re just trying to “dump.”
Determining the source of your loved one’s resistance to care may offer keys as to how to effectively reach them.
Start with asking yourself: “Why does my loved one refuse professional help?”
Some common reasons include:
Concerns around seeking professional help for physical or emotional issues tend to fall into a few broad categories. Respond logically to each concern at its root, with the following action-oriented tips and resources:
Figure out whether your loved one’s insurance covers mental healthcare.
In a survey by the National Patient Advocate Foundation, “25% of patients said they had no opportunity to discuss what was important to them with their doctors when they made their treatment plans.”
All kinds of barriers, real and perceived, may keep your loved one from accessing professional care. Healthcare systems are not always easy to navigate, which can leave your loved one feeling scared, overwhelmed, or simply disinterested in attempting to secure needed assistance. Addressing the root of these feelings can open up paths forward.
If you’ve ever felt so overwhelmed by a situation that you found yourself unable to do anything about it, then you might be able to imagine the stress your loved one may feel. It’s overwhelming to interact with complex medical, social, and legal systems just to meet your basic needs.
The more you can encourage your loved one to engage in their own care, the better it will be for everyone. Engagement with one’s own care often evolves into seeking professional support.
Any steps you can take to make the process easier may encourage their engagement with care. Below are some steps to try. Additionally, we recommend talking with your loved one’s care providers, others in their support system, and peers who face similar difficulties, in order to identify other useful approaches.
Alexandra Drane, Co-Founder and CEO of caregiver organization ARCHANGELS, suggests a helpful re-frame for looking at professional help: “Work toward setting expectations that having a big circle of support is fantastic. Just you is boring!” Instead of approaching this conversation from a place of “getting help,” approach it as an opportunity. Getting professional help in any form is a chance for your loved one to…
Just as you want the best for your loved one, your loved one will want the best for you. Being a caregiver can place a lot of strain on your life, on top of any of your own personal struggles.
It’s important to prioritize your own self-care alongside that of your loved one. Just like your loved one, you deserve to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled.
Be sure to take time to recharge, whatever that may mean for you. Perhaps it means time spent with your loved one on shared interests, or perhaps it means time alone for you to decompress. Calling a friend is another form of rest.
Like many other caregivers, you may benefit from professional counseling or peer support. Whatever it may be, make sure to ask yourself what you need—otherwise, you can’t be in a good position from which give.