How can you encourage someone to accept care support?

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
I'm going through a particularly challenging time with my mother (who lives with me) at the moment. I have got used to the 'sucking a lemon' look every time I book some time away, but she continues to resist outside help. I have her registered with a care agency and all seemed well when the lady visited, but now we are getting close to one of my holidays, she flatly refuses to accept that someone needs to come in. How on earth do you overcome this stubbornness? It's so frustrating. She really just needs someone to check on her, but we don't have any other family, so it has to be someone from a care agency. I really resent going away and then spending the whole time worrying about what's going on at home. I'm sure others have experienced this and just wonder how they overcame the stubbornness and resistance to outside help.
To be fair, I don't think that there is a lot that you can do about it - the only thing I can suggest is that you stress to both parties that she's going to be alone for however many days you will be gone and state that she either accepts the help from the care worker or she's going to have to do it by herself since no one else will be there to do it for her.

We went through similar with my SIL who came to rely on hubby to do everything for her. Now she's alone, I often wonder how she's coping - if this becomes a concern for you, perhaps you could call her once a day and ask how her day was... you can sneak in a few questions about things she might need help with to lay your mind at rest.
How 'bad' is she, in terms of inability to look after herself? Is she mobile within your house, can she do the stairs, can she put the kettle on, use the microwave, use the bathroom, etc etc?

If she can do all those things (and maybe use the phone, too!) (oh yes, and can she put the telly on and use the remote?!), then I would leave her to cope on her own if that's what she wants.

Fill up the fridge with easy-cook microwavable dishes, lots of bread (keep a loaf in the freezer), and lots of things like cereal, or jam, or whatever kind of nursery food she likes, eg cakes and buns. Sliced ham, pate, pre-cooked chicken, and little individual pies, and mashed potato, and lots of soups, tins if she can open them, if not cuppasoups or fresh soup cartons.

How long are you away for? If it's just a week,then she certainly won't starve in a week, even if she is only eating buns and toast etc.

If you are away for longer, or even if you are still worried about her, well, I'm afraid I would book a carer, make sure you meet her before you go, then give her a spare set of keys, and book her to look in a couple of times just to check up on your mum. She doesn't even have to do anything for her, just pop in and see she's OK. You can ask the carer to text you after she's visited.

I do think you have to make clear to your mum that having a carer look in on her (or indeed, do some actual caring if you believe your mum can't cope with just a full fridge) is NOT about your mum, it is about YOU. You simply tell her 'I want someone looking in on you/after you, because otherwise I will worry!' Doesn't matter if she objects - what, pray, is she going to do about it? Bolt the door and put a table in front of it to stop the carer getting in? (I trust that's not possible!!!!!)

As they get older and less independent, and we become their carers, I'm afraid it becomes increasingly a matter not of 'asking' them but of 'telling' them. You don't make a big issue out of it, you don't debate, you don't discuss, you just say 'I've booked a carer to pop in while I'm away, her name is xxx etcetc'. Don't expect agreement - and it doesn't matter that they don't agree! Any more than it would matter if a small child didn't agree that it was bedtime!!!

She probably objects on several grounds - first that she doesn't like change, because most old people don't on principle (!). Second, she may fear that this is 'the thin end of the wedge', ie, that she will be handed over to carers totally before she can say anything. Thirdly, it's about 'control'.....she doesn't want carers in not because she has any actual objections, but simply because YOU want them! And YOU want to get away. And YOU want a life that is separate from hers. And, gravest crime of all, YOU want to escape your 'duty' of looking after her!

So, ignore the sour lemon face (sounds like you are already, so great!), and ignore all the grumblings and objections. She has SO MUCH of your life already - she CANNOT HAVE IT ALL!!!!!

Get your break, recharge, and if she doesn't like being left alone, or with carers, for that period, well, tough! You were not put into this world to keep your mother happy 100% of the time! Right now, with her to care for, you are make a significant sacrifice of your own wants for her sake - so she can reciprocate some of that sacrifice!

Fair's fair, and it's time she did her bit for YOU, rather than you always doing your bit for HER!

All the best, and have a great break away!

PS - she may 'punish' you when you get back by being 'ill' or 'disastified' etc etc, but this is just her being a child, so ignore it.

PPS - don't worry about her. If she comes to harm, well, she made her decision and she's an adult, and if it was the wrong decision, well, tough on her! You're her daughter, not her mother! She has to take the consequences of her actions!
On the 'rights' question, if the mum is living in teh daughter's house, then surely it is up to the daughter to choose who she lets into her house, and if she wants a carer to look in and check on the mum (even ifshe doesn't actually do anything!) then I can't see that the mum can object! It would be different, I agree, if the mum were in her own house.

I think SR is quite right to say point out to your mum what would happen if you got ill! Of course, your mum probably has no clue that looking after her is in the SLIGHTEST any kind of effort and strain and sacrifice at all!

it's been said elswhere that, without being malicious or malign, the elderly do become 'self-absorbed' and lose the ability to think of anyone else. It's the second childhood phenomenon, and just as one would never expect a six year old child to worry about Mum or Dad being overworked, so the elderly can't be expected to think that automatically (ie, without being prompted)

So often we try, either out of love, or consideration, or even just politeness, to 'hide' the 'burden' our parents become, and of course the result of that is that, not suprisingly, they then have no idea how much of a strain we can come under!

But I do think that getting them to understand, and treat as normal, that we their carers have regular and routine breaks away from looking after them, is what should happen. I'm looking after my MIL (I'm widowed, and she has no one else except her other son in the USA)(who is, thankfully, very grateful for what I do!), and when she's been with me for a month (about a week too long, usually!), I simply say 'OK, time for my break, so I'll drive you home at the w/e'.....then I do a massive shop, take her home (400 miles away) and fill up her fridge and freezer with the kind of food I described above, then I head south again and have my break. (Been a fortnight now on my own, so off to collect her tomorrow!)

As I advised you, I don't ask, or wait for her to suggest, my break - I just say it to her, and that's that. (She's no trouble, bless her, other than jsut being 'very old' and enjoying living in what I now call Hotel Granny - with breakfast served, and lunch and tea, and little outings, and laundry and shopping etc etc, and lots of cups of tea and daytime telly!)(you can tell I've had a break from her as I'm feeling very benign towards her!!!! Image )

It does sound like you're taking breaks, even if your mum puts her lemon face on! So you have established those essential ground rules. Maybe now the 'next step' is her accepting that you want someone checking up on her for YOUR sake, not necessarily hers! (Has she said why she objects??) (thought whatever she says may not be the real reason of course!)

All best, and enjoy your break.
Jenny - I like your response - thank you! On first read it seemed a bit harsh, but then I went away and thought about it and started to think that maybe I mollycoddle my mother a bit too much. She is perfectly capable of looking after herself in the home, provided there is food in the house, etc. Maybe I have just spent too much time listening to her arguments as to why I shouldn't be going on holidays and this has made it seem to me like she won't be able to cope. Hey, maybe that's her plan! She's not really a difficult lady, but she really seems to resent me having a life and not focusing all on her (but I know full well this is how older parents behave, given half a chance). We had a 'situation' the last time I went away, which was only for a long weekend, and she managed to cope, went to the neighbours, they helped, etc.

I guess this is all about trying to hit that very difficult balance of living my life, supporting her as much as I can, but also learning to stand up for myself, or at least just getting on with what I want to do, without the guilt trip. And also maybe not worrying too much about 'what ifs'.

Now I just need to try to learn not to respond every time she tries to wind me up about my holidays!
Thank you all for the helpful responses - just goes to show how helpful this forum can be!

You know, I don't think it ever crosses my mother's mind that I might be ill one day! The focus is always on her, her ailments, her aches and pains. No time for me to be ill! I wouldn't want to wish illness on myself as, fortunately, I am in pretty good health, but it would certainly be interesting to see what would happen if I was laid up with flu for a few days.

Yes, fortunately I have, more or less, been able to go away when I want to, so I know how lucky I am. I just wish there was less 'trauma' around each holiday, but maybe that's down to me to take control a bit more and not let her 'sour lemon' comments get to me so much. I will definitely have to work on it a bit more.
SR, I genuinely fail to see that! If I own a house, and someone else is living in it, and I give the key to a third party, and ask them to pop into the house from time to time, then if the other person living in it objects, tough! I can see your point if the third party makes contact with the other occupant, or tries to take them to the bathroom, or whatever (that might possibly be construed as assault?)

But if, say, the third party makes some food, and sets it in front of the second party, on what grounds can the second party object? She doesn't have to eat the food! She doesn't even have to speak to the third party!

You do raise a very, very interesting and, so far unmentioned on this forum point, which is - what exactly is the legal status of having a relative live with you (assuming they have no other permanent address). They have no ownership of your property, there is no tenancy agreement - might they be lodgers, perhaps? There is no 'licence' either (a looser form of 'non'-tenancy, and one solicitors never advise, as it can prove difficult to evict an occupant with a licence) - but the owner is still occupying the property anyway. Is the relative some kind of permanent house guest?

I will ask my solicitor friend! But it's a very interesting legal point, to my mind - and in the case of the OP here, rathe a pertinant one!

It's just that I cannot see why someone who has no ownership, no tenancy, no licence, no lodger arrangement, gets to have any say whom the owner lets into the house! Of course, sometimes, not having any formal aggreement at all with a person living in your house with no other address is the most dangerous of all, as the relative may acquire some kind of default rights to continue living in the house etc. Maybe if that is so,then they may, indeed, get to dictate who does and who does not get to enter the house when they are in it!
Maz, I agree, don't let your mother drag you into any debate about whether you should or should not have a holiday, or whether you do or do not need a break from her! Like I say, just 'tell' her what you will be doing.

Interesting (and perhaps revealing!) that there was a 'situation' when you last went away - was that to punish you, perhaps? Or to try and get you to come back early?

I'm afraid I rather hold to the opinion that, at some deep subconscoius level (and sometimes not so subconsious!) there is a kind of Darwinian struggle going on between carer and caree. The caree is 'desperate' to get the carer to commit 24x7 to endless, perpetual care, and will pull every psychological trick in the book, ruthless, and without compunction or compassion or consideration for the carer, to achieve that.

Think of a baby wanting food in the night! It cries, and cries, and cries - it's never ever going to think 'oh, dear, Mum won't like a broken night, and she does need her sleep, i know, so I think I'll wait till morning'!!!! Same with old folk - they want US and they want us ALL THE TIME at their disposal.

It's about power, I suppose. A baby only has power when it has power over our emotions, to make us care for it. Ditto with our elders. They more powerless they get, in terms of being dependent on others, the more urgent it is for them to control our emotional response to them.

I agree the 'impulse to mollycoddle' is almsot impossble to ignore! I do it with my MIL - a sort of URGENT RUSH to get her a cup of tea, to make her breakfast, to take her out for a nice drive in teh countryside, to fuss over her and make her warm and comfy.....

Very, very hard to fight against!

But....once we are away from them, it becomes easier!

They do try it on you know - not necessarily deliberately, but all the same. When I took my MIL back to her flat in the new year, the morning I left she sat by the TV in her usual chair, as I had my breakfast, and looked around her helplessly. "How will I manage?' she asked in a vague, trembly sort of way. I just said brightly something like 'oh it will all come back to you!'.....and when I went off shopping for her, and returned, she was fine, and had already made her own soup for lunch. She's been fine every time I've phoned her since!

So you d have to blank out the lemon face and the 'pressure' that they exert, like a forcefield almost, all around them, to keep us in orbit, to keep us in line. They go on about their ailments (lucikly, my MIL doesn't!)(she's great like that, thankfully), and as you say, never dream that anyone else can ever have anything amiss (and they have no sympathy, either, because any one else's infirmity is competition for them, and your ailments are a threat to her, as they may incapacitate you as her carer, whicdh is your primary function in life now!)

I do think, overall, one has to 'disengage emotionally' quite a lot. We aren't horrible, just 'not really involved' - a degree of indifference. It's why, I think, professional carers are so good with them - because they don't really care, that's why! There are no chains and knots and childhood programming to bind them to the caree, and byand large carees seldom play up professional carers the way they do their relatives!

All the best, and definitely take your break, and don't moddlecoddle your mum! Image (If you want to 'salve your conscience' - not morally necessary, but you may illogically feel it anyway! - how about giving her some 'nice treats' when you come back!)
SR - Well, I shall consult my lawyer chum! I simply can't see why someone living in your house (as a guest, not a tenant or lodger) gets to choose who comes in and out of it!! None of their business. Remember, I'm not talking about imposing body contact or anything like that (because that could indeed be assault!)- the incoming carer need do nothing but observe, and possibly prepare food to put in front of the mum, whether or not she eats it is her business!

If the mum part owns the house, that might be different perhaps? But again, it's a question of how much control over one's own property each co-owner has -

And, to be blunt, if it IS, as you say, a contravention of her yooman rights to endure a carer observing her and cooking her food, then, I'm afraid, the daughter just has to impose the consequences of that refusal - which is NOT (as the mum is probably hoping) to not take her holiday after all (!), but simply either to let the mum cope on her own, and if she injures herself, put her straight into hospital and leave her there (!) (because she brought it on herself!) or else to refuse to have her live with her (because the daughter no longer accepts the responsibility for a woman who won't agree to any substitute carers other than her enslaved daughter!) .

I do get 'cross' about the idea of elderly people having it all their own damn way! They are already exacting SUCH a price from their own children (yes, I know you give your time and life willingly, but not everyone sees it like that!), that the least they can do is be gracious about letting their children have the necessary time off, AND the peace of mind by having carers in, even though they may think it unnecessary themselves. It's the grudgingness about letting their children 'escape' even for a moment, that makes me lose all sympathy with such a selfish, self-obsessed elderly person, irrespective of their mental state and age!

(Not saying Maz's mother is that bad, but what she 'should' be saying - and all carees 'should' be saying is: 'Darling, of course you need a holiday! I so appreciate all you do for me, and you are a wonderful wonderful daughter/son. So off you go and have a lovely time! I'll be fine on my own, but I know you'll worry, so yes, let the carer lady come along and check me over if that makes you happy! Bye bye, have a lovely, lovely time, and I'll look forward to your coming home nice and refreshed. You are a good, good daughter/son and I love you very much Image I wonder how many parent carees say that, hmm???)
If she's determined not to accept help, check that she's got a Lifeline. If she can't cope, and uses the Lifeline, tell them to ring Social Services and they can arrange an emergency care package. Of course you need a break.