Many of us have loved ones who would benefit greatly from having help in their homes due to illnesses or injuries which have caused activities of daily living such as dressing, showering, walking, and others to become a challenge. Because we can’t always be there, we would love nothing more than to know that a trained professional is filling in the gap, but our loved ones won’t hear of it. The loss of independence and privacy seem much too undesirable, in spite of the many advantages. To many, admission that there even is a need is an admission that old age is at the back door and there may be no turning back. It is better to struggle along independently than to surrender to the need for assistance. Can’t we, if we put ourselves in their shoes, understand how they must feel?

We don’t, however, always put ourselves in our loved one’s shoes. We want to fulfill our responsibilities and allay our own fears. While focusing on providing for their physical needs, we may be less sensitive to how they are feeling emotionally. In my work with families, I’ve even heard some resort to using threats or an equally unpleasant method to forcefully “persuade” a loved one to accept help. Although motivated by love, the method of persuasion could be improved upon.

Below is a list of some possible ways to encourage your family members to accept help, while still honoring their autonomy.

1. Stress concern for you loved one’s well-being. You understand his/her needs for privacy and independence but would feel more at peace if you knew there was someone to assist in your absence.

2. Persuade by agreeing that starting out slow is a good idea. A few hours a day can grow into much more once your loved one is used to the idea and the person who is caring for him/her.

3. Be sure to allow your parent, aunt, uncle, etc. to speak and communicate his/her needs during the initial assessment/evaluation. Family members will feel more in control when you help them feel they are making their own decisions.

4. Once everyone has agreed to the help that will be provided, encourage him/her to give the relationship a little bit of time. Bringing someone new into your home does take some adjustment.

5. Reinforce the more important qualities of a caregiver over insignificant ones. A caregiver should be competent, experienced, and able to perform the needed tasks. A caring spirit and the desire to ease burdens are more important than having common backgrounds.

6. At times, information from someone outside the family may be more well-received than from someone within the family. Encourage your loved one to investigate for himself/herself by calling an agency for an in-home evaluation.

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