Nothing is more frustrating than telling someone something and then having him or her not believe you. Even worse is having he or she tell you that you don’t know what you are talking about. It becomes even more infuriating when you have to tell a family member that their loved one needs to get help in their day-to-day activities and, the family member is still in denial.
You see, I can relate to this. My mother has always been a superwoman, doing things around the house even when my dad was alive. She basically took care of the home but time went by and the ageing process happened. It wasn’t that I was not aware of the changes, but I don’t think it really registering in my mind - maybe it did on the surface but not deep down.
Often, I could not understand when she was not doing things the correct way or doing it halfway. It still happens up to this day. You will always see your parent or loved one in a particular way, no matter what. Coming to terms with the changes is difficult, but it takes time. Try not to get too frustrated, or argue with your Caree. All decisions are done based on knowledge, understanding and taking the relevant steps to get the best result. Your role is to provide them with the information and observations of what is happening with the Caree. For example, why you think there is a safety risk and what (specifically) happened that raised this concern; where their health can or has been deteriorating and explain what you observed and, where a professional caregiver may come in to assist in performing certain daily tasks such as preparing meals, giving them medication on time and the right dosages, bathing and so on.
Remember every person will deal with things differently. In the end, you can try to show them and explain what is happening, but you cannot make them understand or change their mind. You do what needs to be done and ensure that everything is done in the best interest of the Caree.
1. Be the bigger person, stay calm, stay focused and stay on track. It is not always easy to see someone you love deteriorating in health. It is often easier to be in denial and just move on but your role in this denial process is to try to be the best you. Be kind and understanding when speaking with someone in denial and avoid being sarcastic. Getting angry or using obscene language will get you nowhere. State the obvious situations and observations and then decide what is best for the caree. Often, you may need the financial support of the person in denial so you have to be creative. Start a daily log writing everything that occurs and takes photos or videos if need be. According to the sayings, “A picture tells a thousand words” and “Seeing is believing”.
2. Knowledge is only power when it is shared. Sometimes, denial is based on not having information about the disease (that your caree suffered from). It is important to understand the symptoms and the changes that may occur at different stages as the disease progresses. Gather the information and send to the person in denial. Google and YouTube are useful resources. Medical reports or proof diagnosis is critical so they can see what is taking place (with your caree) over a period of time. Again you can do a video, record the conversation with the doctor, or the situations (when they happen). For example, mom has Sundowning issues. (According to www.healthline.com, Sundowning is a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It is also known as “late-day confusion”. If someone you care for has dementia, their confusion and agitation may get worse in the late afternoon and evening. In comparison, their symptoms may be less pronounced earlier in the day). Mom awakes at very odd hours in the night because of the (night-time) confusion. If you are trying to get the family member in denial to agree to contribute to hiring a caregiver for the night, record it so that he or she can understand what is happening with the caree and what you have been doing to calm the situation. Show the times that you are up and unable to get any sleep and why a night caregiver will be able to help with the situation.
3. Meeting with an expert (doctor), mediator (caregiving consultant) or pastor. Some family members may not believe you but they may listen to a third person who is impartial to the situation. I have often heard some of the reasons behind not listening to the family caregiver. The range from “He is the youngest, why should I listen to him?” to “Well she is getting the house, so she has to take care of Mom and Dad.” Sometimes, there are personal, unresolved family issues that get in the way of logic and making a decision that is in the best interest of the Caree.
As a certified care-giving consultant, it is very important that I listen to all sides of the story. However, my goal is not to sit and state “Okay, this is what we are going to do, then this, then this”. No, my goal is to assist the family in getting to a workable, unified, agreeable decision that is in the best interest of the caree. Many of us hold the answers, we know what is best for the caree, we know deep down what needs to be done but because emotions are tangled up in our logic, the heart sometimes leads us down a path, that is often not in the best interest of the Caree. In the end, we do what needs to be done.
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