Resistance to care a 'growing problem' in the elderly

28 April, 2014

Founder of alternative to private aged care facilities in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, Phil Usher, explains why the elderly are often resistant to care and how to help them get the care they need.

As Australia's 'baby boomers' turn into elderly citizens, more and more are beginning to require care. Whether this care is in the home or at a residential facility, many elderly Australians are resistant to it. In a recent blog post, Phil Usher, co-founder of Tall Trees Care Communities, explained this problem and possible solutions in great detail.

There are many factors that combine to make an elderly person resistant to care. As one ages, the physical and mental capacities may start to deteriorate. It is human nature to not want to admit to losing either; this causes many elderly citizens to be in denial. In addition, the looming spectre of being vulnerable and needing care causes people to worry about losing their dignity and their independence.

This fear can cause anger and depression, making it even more difficult to convince them to accept the care they need. They may also feel as though they are a "burden" or otherwise feel guilty about needing care.

Usher recommends some practical methods for helping the elderly realise that they need care. One of the most important recommendations is to always provide choices for the person who needs care. When a person has lived a long, full life and has been "in charge" for most of it, they are naturally resistant to taking a subordinate role in determining their own care. Consequently, it is helpful to present that person with choices and options, thus allowing them to continue to have control over their own care and their own destiny.

Another strategy is to allow a professional such as a doctor to convince the patient that they need a higher level of care than they are currently receiving. Most people trust doctors more than their well-meaning relatives when it comes to health advice. When an elderly person is resistant to getting the care they need, a doctor may be the right person to inform them and convince them of it.

According to Usher, though, allowing the elderly to retain their dignity and independence is essential in providing any kind of care, whether in home or at a residential facility. Usher said: "When we started Tall Trees Care Communities, we consulted many elderly citizens including our own mums.

"Everyone we talked to said that the biggest thing they didn't want was to have someone telling them what to do all the time. We listened to our mums and decided that if it isn't good enough for our mums, it isn't good enough, period."

Usher concluded: "Respecting the independence and dignity of our residents has been the cornerstone upon which we have built our communities. In fact, many of our residents came on board after a trial visit. They liked it so much that they didn't want to leave. Our residents own their own homes and care is available 24/7. If your loved one is resistant to care, a trial visit may be just what the doctor ordered."