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September 04th 2019

One of the most challenging aspects of seeing a loved one facing the initial emergence of dementia is the unawareness and often, denial of the disease. The confusion causes upset for all parties, as well as resistance to medical help as the sufferer cannot see the problem or the need for assistance. 

If your loved one is refusing the help of any severity, they can become distressed or aggressive if they feel like they are being forced into something. Whether they are refusing food, medication, healthcare assistance or a stay in a dementia care home, you must alter your approach to care to consider their feelings and demands. 

Caring for someone with dementia will never be easy. But, here are a few ways in which you can help them understand that they need to accept dementia care without it resulting in a battle.


Why are they refusing dementia help at home?

Your first helping hand in encouraging your relative to accept help is first to discover the reasons WHY they are refusing help. 

Dementia patients are suffering an infliction on their memory, language and their ability to reason. Such complications mean their method of defence when they are unsure what is happening, is to say "NO" automatically! It's important to remember that refusal isn't always verbal. Your relative can deny help non-verbally, and you must look out for these warning signs, too. 

Some of the most common reasons for resistance among dementia patients include: 

  • They don't understand or can't comprehend what you are telling them, or what you are proposing

  • They feel like they are being forced into something against their own will

  • They genuinely don't believe they have an illness or require any assistance in daily life

  • You are asking something unreasonable of them, or that goes against their personal preferences. For example, they might be refusing food because you are asking them to eat something they have never liked

  • Dementia often sparks fear. If your loved one also suspects they have on-set dementia, they might refuse a doctors appointment due to the fear of diagnosis

Although a "no!" can frequently be irrational when caring for people with dementia, a lot of the times, there is some degree of the reasoning behind their decision. Once you understand their reasons, refusal is easier to tackle and find a compromise, so they receive the help they need, while still respecting their human rights. 

Have patience when caring for someone with dementia at home

Similarly to most aspects of life, patience is key.

When coping with dementia, your relative will find it hard to concentrate, might struggle to hold a conversation, turn aggressive, wander off, and much more. It is important to remember that these discrepancies are implications of the disease and cannot be helped. Therefore, patience and understanding are vital.

Ask questions and reflect upon decisions they would have made pre-dementia

When you develop dementia, you don't automatically lose your human rights to make decisions or say 'no'. Although these decisions are seldom ill-judged because of dementia, sometimes it is because it genuinely goes against the victim's interests. 

For example, you might try and get your relative out of the house for the afternoon, to which they decline. But, you must consider if it were something they would have liked pre-diagnosis? If you suggest a shopping trip, but they have never enjoyed shopping, it is their right to say no. However, because of their diagnosis, this can be confused with your loved one being resistant or challenging. 

Asking questions to them, and yourself will give you a better understanding of how they feel and how to navigate around the situation. 

Give your relative options or choices 

Somewhat linked to our point above, it is courtesy to give your relative options. Dementia essentially robs you of your independence, which will be a traumatic experience for all. So, giving your loved one options with regards to their daily life or care plans is essential. 

If they don't believe they need medical assistance or help, sometimes those decisions have to be made for them. However, giving them options on the smallest decisions, such as day trips or mealtime, will help them to feel somewhat in charge of their life. 

If your loved one is in the early stages of dementia, they might be willing to accept dementia care at home for the time being. If so, it's an excellent idea to allow them to help you decide who they welcome into their home and what tasks they need assistance with.  

Bring in the professionals when it is needed

One of the most critical aspects of helping dementia patients is to help yourself first and foremost. You can experience a lot of challenging behaviour in dementia sufferers, and it can take its toll on you both mentally and physically. 

When you experience this sort of burn out, it can halt the level of care that you can provide, and you can become lax and unattentive to your loved one. You also might find it becomes impossible to complete everyday tasks such as administering medication or getting them to eat or drink, which becomes extremely dangerous. 

Rather than suffering in silence, there are hundreds of accessible dementia nurses, specialists and doctors with years of experience in dementia care who will help. Dementia care homes ensure your loved one is safe 24/7 if they require this kind of attention. They also specialise in activities for people with dementia to ensure they still enjoy a quality of life. 

You don't have to do this by yourself, and asking for help isn't giving up! Dementia is a notoriously challenging disease, and people turn to the professionals every day with their loved one's best interests at heart.


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