What do we do when Mom refuses to receive help from a personal care assistant?

2 answers | Last updated: Jun 21, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

Mom needs personal care assistance, but continues to refuse to allow us to bring any outside care providers into her home. What can we do when she keeps telling us "no" when we ask her if we can get her some help?

Expert Answers

Ron Kauffman is a certified senior advisor (CSA), senior lifestyle radio host, syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer's Disease. In addition, Kauffman is also the primary caregiver for his mother, who has Alzheimer's.

Many boomers face the challenge of trying to increase the level of in-home assistance for an aging parent. While trying to do this is usually based on love and concern, and sometimes at personal financial hardship, trying to introduce an outside resource, particularly into mom's home can be, as you have found a daunting challenge.

Your mother most likely does not see herself as needing help. After all, she took care of raising the family, and has taken care of your father all these years of their retirement, and in her mind, nothing's changed. She's still the independent woman, and everything's fine. But often that's not the case.

If you've been the person stepping in to pick up the slack by running mom's errands, helping with cleaning, cooking or perhaps with some of her activities of daily living such as dressing and bathing, your challenge, while difficult is surmountable.

Use one of mom's tactics to make your point - the guilt trip. While many moms really are amazing when it comes to laying on the guilt trips, they're also susceptible. You can begin by telling your mother that your schedule and the demands on your time are making it more difficult for you to keep up with all the things that are important to her, and you know she doesn't want your health to suffer. So you need some help, and you'd like to bring someone in to help you, not mom, get some of the many things done that you simply no longer have time to do. That's one basic approach.

You might also consider, if mom can still be rationally reasoned with, explaining to her that you worry about her being alone, the possibility of her falling or being injured, and not being able to do the things she'd like to do until they fit into your schedule. Suggest a trial period with a care provider "“ remember this can range from a companion to a homemaker to a CNA, who is better trained than you to certain things like wound care or provide ADL assistance.

Ask mom's permission, but be very assertive so you achieve your goal, to interview, along with you, a number of candidates from agencies that provide that type of service. Do not make cost a factor for your mom, even if you have to tell her that for the 30-day trial, there is no charge, that's okay. Remember the goal is to protect and care for mom. Allow mom to make the decision which CNA she'd like with her after the interview process, as it really doesn't matter from a training perspective, and having a choice gives mom a sense of control in this situation.

In some cases, you may have to bite the bullet and tell mom that you will feel better with someone coming to her home, and it's not up for discussion. What is often amazing, in most cases, whether it was with mom's blessing or against her wishes, is seeing mom become used to accepting the outside assistance, and on occasion telling you things like ""¦I don't know how I got along before Mary was here to help me." Even though it was you there for mom before Mary, let the comment slide, because the goal will have been achieved.

Sometimes caring for mom is a reversal of roles, and you must step in and be the strong guiding hand to protect your loved one from making a poor emotionally-based decision.

Community Answers

Amazing condo gal answered...

I approached my Mom about my own health issues to get her to finally agree to let someone into the home. We started slowly - mostly chatting with the new person then finally going for a long ride in her car.Now on to vacuuming! She now tells me how much she likes this person and yes, wonders how she did without her:) never mind I have been doing the same thing......the other difference is this: my mother is very nice to this person but sometimes short with me or "difficult". As long as my Mom gets the help she needs I am relieved not to be on the receiving end of " No, No, No " and can happily relax knowing she is much more "agreeable" with another person:) Amazing but the truth is that we, the caregivers, need to take care of our own mental selves and fighting with our parent at the tail end of life (theirs or ours:) is simply not worth it. So,I agree that making it more about us than them - they will agree because in the end parents want to do right by their kids - no matter how old they are:)