My father refuses to accept professional home care. How can I get him to accept more help?

1 answer | Last updated: Apr 26, 2011
Jhaugh asked...

My father is 92 and totally crippled. His biggest fear all his life has been that one day he might end up in a home. I have nursing care for him, but he refuses to have them 24 hours a day. They put him to bed in the evening and then return the next day. He is alone all night with no one there to help him if he needs something. We have fought over this. I have had him sign a document stating he knows what he is doing and wants to live like this. His mind is sharp as a tack. My question is 1: How do I get him to get more help and 2: are there any legal ramifications to me because he is living like this. I have 3 brothers, but the over seeing of care falls on me.

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

It is such a worry when a parent is alone at night unable to be helped.  But many people are afraid of nursing homes, especially at night.  Others hate to pay caregivers to sleep.  

In a way you and your father are leading fear driven lives.   His fear of disability; your fear of responsibility.   If you can go through your fear and come out the other side, your courage will be of help to him. 

  • When two people are at logger heads with each other, it helps to expand the family circle of care.   How can you relax?
  • Before you visit, sit quietly in a comfortable chair.    Feel your love for your father and your irritation at his stubbornness.
  • Contemplate the slogan, "See all situations as passing memory." 
  • When you visit him take someone with you, a son or daughter or a friend who can act as a support.
  • Don't dicuss his situation.  Instead, keep it light and social.   Does he have a favorite beverage or a special fruit.
  • Don't try to get him to do anything.  Communicate with and support the nurses.  Do they leave him a drink by his bed.?  Does he have a urinal or a radio or a way to connect? 
  • Try to always tell your father how much you value him.   Ask his advice.   Read short articles from the newspaper or professional journals or other papers of interest to him that can spark a brief discussion. 
  • Play music.   Ask a musical friend to come to his house and play for him, flute, violin, bagpipes, whatever insturment that a friend might have. After the "concert" serve a glass of lemonade or tea. Enjoy.
  • Watch a sports event with your father, a tennis match, a football game whatever is seasonal and of interest.   Make some snacks.  Share.
  • Trust that when your father relaxes, he will be more willing to receive the help he needs.   But be very patient.  Repeat the slogan that I gave you every morning.
  • When the time comes for overnight care, try to find a young person, a young man in his twenties who can be shown how to respect old age.    Young people are very good for overnight care and the cost is much less.