What to Do When a Parent with Dementia Refuses Help

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woman standing in front of a brown door thinking

My mother with dementia refuses help. What do I do?” 

I can’t cope with my mom’s dementia.”

My mom has dementia, now what?”

These are very common scenarios and questions that many family caregivers face. Whether it’s your mother, father, or another close relative, it can be challenging to know what to do when a dementia patient is refusing to go into care or receive help. 

Often, elderly adults with dementia want to maintain their lifestyle and independence. Because they’ve spent decades doing things on their own, it’s tough for them to acknowledge their needs and receive assistance. However, dementia can eventually make living independently difficult and unsafe.

So, what do you do when a parent or relative with dementia refuses help?

In this article, we’re sharing expert advice on how to deal with dementia in a parent or elderly loved one. We’ll talk about topics surrounding dementia, like:

  • What to do if a parent has dementia
  • How to handle a parent with dementia who’s refusing help
  • How to get help for a parent with dementia

If you’re looking for advice on caring for a loved one with dementia, then keep reading.

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What to Do if a Parent Has Dementia

Dementia is a progressive disease (its symptoms worsen over time) that starts with symptoms of memory loss. As it progresses, dementia can eventually affect your loved one’s:

  • Ability to live and perform daily life tasks independently
  • Personality and behavior
  • Recognition of familiar people, places, etc.

Individuals with dementia often need 24-hour care during the late stage of dementia.

However, with some help and assistance, your loved one can live a high-quality life. Some ways you can care for them well involve:

As your loved one ages, they’ll need more intentional hands-on help. Taking care of a loved one who knows they need help and is willing to receive it can ensure they live a healthy, high-quality life for years.

But what do you do if your mother or father with dementia refuses help?

How to Deal with Dementia in a Parent Who Refuses Help

Every caregiving situation involving dementia will have its challenges, as both the family caregiver and individual with dementia are adapting to new norms. When a loved one with dementia refuses care, it can add a whole new layer of complexity to the situation.

Building trust is the most important part of the whole care process. When your parent or family member with dementia trusts you, they’ll be more willing to listen and receive help.

Here are some steps you can take to build trust and move things forward when a dementia patient refuses to go into care or accept help.  

Start with a Creative Engagement Assessment

Many elder care companies, like Stowell Associates in Southeastern Wisconsin, use a Creative Engagement Assessment to help break the ice with clients who are refusing care. This approach can be helpful for family caregivers, too.

A Creative Engagement Assessment is a way to connect with your loved one. It involves a series of questions you can ask your loved one that covers their:

  • Family/social history: Where did you attend school/college? At this point in time, what do you value most about your life? What was life like when you were growing up? etc.
  • Routine: Do you like to cook? What do you like to do outdoors? How do you take care of your home? Do you have any challenges with daily activities? etc.
  • Hobbies/subjects of interest: What hobbies do you have/enjoy? In what ways do you spend time alone? Do you like to read?, Do you have problems reading due to eye conditions? etc.
  • Socialization: Are you comfortable in groups? Are you part of any clubs/organizations? What kind of entertainment events do you enjoy? etc.

Sitting down with your loved one and learning more about their life is a great way to engage them in conversation and show them that you care. It’s also a great way to ask some questions regarding their physical abilities and any difficulties they may encounter on a regular basis.

Be Patient, Ask Questions, and Listen Well

When you first approach your loved one and they refuse help, it can be beneficial to do three things:

  1. Be patient
  2. Ask questions
  3. Listen well

We mentioned earlier that the idea of receiving assistance can bring up strong emotions and fears in your loved one. Instead of reciprocating with frustration or going behind their back to find a solution yourself, kindly ask them to explain why they don’t want help, or what emotion they’re feeling and why.

For example, let’s say that you realize that your loved one with dementia probably shouldn’t operate a vehicle on their own anymore. Rather than demanding they give you the keys or submitting a form to the local driving authorities to get their license revoked, you could ask:

  • How do you feel when you’re driving?
  • Have you been in any accidents recently? How did that make you feel?
  • Are there times during the day that you don’t like to drive?
  • I saw a dent on the front bumper. Did something happen to you?

You can use this same technique with any situation or circumstance where a loved one rejects help, like an elderly parent who refuses medical treatment.

There may come a time when you need to take more serious action. But initially, try to engage your loved one relationally and help them see that you simply care about them.

Seek Professional Dementia Care Assistance

If you’re unable to get through to your loved one and you’re left thinking, “I can’t cope with my mom’s (or dad’s) dementia and their refusal of care” then you can always seek out a professional dementia care manager.

Care managers are beneficial for both family caregivers and their loved ones with dementia because they:

  1. Provide resources and solutions to family caregivers to ease their caregiver burden
  2. Ensure that adults with dementia can maintain their quality of life for as long as possible

Dementia care experts know how to handle a parent with dementia who refuses care. They have training and experience with all kinds of scenarios, like dementia patients refusing to take medications. 

So for anyone who’s wondering, “My mom or dad has dementia, now what?” connecting with a dementia care manager can help you understand dementia and how to best help your parent.

How to Get Help for a Parent with Dementia

Looking after a parent with dementia can be emotional and challenging. When your mother or father with dementia refuses help, caring for them can be even more difficult. Most family caregivers don’t know how to deal with dementia in a parent, let alone a parent with dementia who refuses help.

If you’re not sure what to do if a parent has dementia or how to handle a parent with dementia who refuses help, you don’t need to panic. One of the most helpful steps you can take to provide quality care to your loved one is to connect with a dementia care expert.

Here at Stowell Associates, we have a team of professional Care Managers ready to walk alongside you in your caregiver journey. Our Care Managers have years of experience and lots of resources to ensure that you’re equipped to look after your loved one. 

Contact us today to talk with a dementia Care Manager and get expert advice on how to help your loved one

In-home elder care solutions in Southeastern Wisconsin

Contact us for a free consultation

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