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When Being A Stubborn Senior Becomes Unfair To Family & Caregivers

 
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Home » Stubborn Seniors
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When Does Being A Stubborn Senior Become Unfair To Those Who Care About You?
Assisted Living Directory iconSummary: Understandably, many seniors wish to hold onto their independence as long as possible. However, when health or other issues start interfering with the ability to manage daily tasks and activities, and seniors or aging parents refuse to ask for and accept help - the burden of long-distance care is often-times unfairly placed on family members.
Article By: Assisted Living Directory

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We have another discussion on our site about the importance of being an assertive senior. This is a page that talks about seniors needing to ask the tough questions about their health and well-being from their doctors, and to challenge their doctors and their caregivers when they believe that they are not being cared for properly, or if they believe they are receiving an incorrect diagnosis, advice - or if they are being ignored. We felt that this was an important subject since many aging parents and seniors are less equipped and capable of 'speaking up' when necessary, and are less likely to show their assertiveness at the times when they need it the most.

We encourage seniors to show their assertiveness to make sure they receive the care and attention that they need and deserve.

So what happens when a senior is not only unassertive about their health can care, but are to the point of being stubbornly nonchalant or indifferent? This is where their attitude, whether they realize it or not, can become unfair to everyone involved - especially family and loved ones.

I'd like to share a personal story about stubbornness, and how it is affecting my family.

Seniors need to ask for help when they need it.I wrote, and did a video last year about my mother-in-law who was facing stage-3 cancer. She is 82 years old, and aside from this, she has been a model of health and independence throughout her whole 'senior existence.' She's the type that eats all-organic foods, exercises and does yoga, and for an 82-year-old, she looks fantastic. She's lived alone for the past 15 years or so, and has been in the same house in a small town for about 50 years. She still works, just because she wants to.

Very obviously, she is a person who cherishes her independence.

During her struggle with the cancer, she, at times, was very unassertive, and did not press her doctors about all of the possible options for her treatment, or even what the correct diagnosis was, or the severity of it (which was, at times questionable). She even went as far as to not even acknowledge that she was sick (by doing so, she felt that she wasn't giving her illness 'more power' over her). We, as her family, were forced to make numerous trips to see her, and accompany her to her appointments to act as her voice of reason, and support with her doctors and caregivers. We believe that had we not stepped in, she would not have been cared for as well, and in turn, may not still be with us today.

Let's flash-forward a year to the good news. She has apparently beat the actual cancer, which we are all thankful for, and thrilled about. She had several months of being back to her normal, energetic, independent self.

However, some new, unexpected issues have come up that have challenged our whole family, and have made us question whether she is receiving the type of care she needs. We are also questioning whether her doctors are addressing her issues correctly.

As a result of the chemo that she received, she has developed a serious disorder that makes the muscles in the body extremely weak - to the point of not being able to walk but only a few steps before needing to rest. Driving is definitely out of the question, which is a huge problem, since she lives alone.

The problem for us, as her family that lives well over 1000 miles away, is that again, she is not acknowledging that she is very ill again, and for us to get the straight story from her over the phone is very difficult. She is being stoic, and quite stubborn about her health, and about maintaining her independence. She refuses to ask neighbors or friends for any help whatsoever, and any advice that we, as her family, offer her is usually immediately dismissed. We have contacted several neighbors who are more than willing to help her, and to check in on her, but she refuses the help as, in her words "She does not want to be a burden."

Our other idea, which was also dismissed was to call her local Area Agency on Aging to find out what services might be available to help her with her "ADL's" or "Activities of Daily Living. We found out that there are services in her area to help her with transportation to shopping and appointments, and even caregivers who can check on her by phone, and in-person several times a week. This all would be a perfect solution for the time-being - however, she dismissed this idea since it has a lengthy application process (in her view) and since she still believes that she doesn't need help.

Her stubbornness has now crossed the line into being unfair to her family.

Because she refuses to be helped, and won't ask for it even when it is readily available to her through her neighbors, and through her community services, the burden then is on her extended family, all of whom live in different states. Unfortunately, our time and monetary resources are finite, and there will be a time that she will need care more than just the occasional "checking in."

We feel that the time is right for her to start looking into assisted living.

My mother-in-law fortunately lives in an area where there are numerous excellent assisted living facilities - many of which already have her friends living there as residents. In such an environment, she can focus on truly healing, and not worrying about things like navigating her steep staircase to take her laundry to the laundry-room in her basement, or keeping up her lawn and garden, shoveling snow, or worrying about making it to her appointments without getting into an accident.

However, convincing her to consider assisted living as an option will not be easy, and unfortunately, it will more-than-likely take something serious happening, like a fall, for her to realize that she is not a young 70 any more. She has issues, and she needs the help - and the help is available.

In the meantime, we, as her family, are burdened with the stress, guilt, and anxiety of not knowing each day if she has groceries, if she has managed another day without a fall, if she's made it to her appointments, and what the true story and reality is of her condition - an position that is unfortunate, unnecessary, and unfair for anyone to find themselves in, especially if local help is readily available.

Asking for help should not be a source of shame or embarrasment, or a forfeit of independence. Regardless of age, we all need help from time-to-time, and we should all be thankful that we live in a country where federal (largely started with the Older Americans Act of 1965), state, local and private resources that are geared specifically to help the elderly (and to offer relief to family caregivers) are readily available.

- Article by the staff at Assisted Living Directory

Responses to this article:
Michelle Wrote:
One of the most aggravating things to be stubborn about is not taking meds as directed. My mom just refuses sometimes, and it pains me to know that it is only hurting herself. Sometimes I feel like I am dealing with a child.
14 March 2014 at 11:02 pm

Veronica Wrote:
My dad was the same way - stubborn, and not wanting to budge with anything. When we finally did get him to move, he was as happy as could be.
5 June 2012 at 11:16 am

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