Caregiving: The Independent Soul

Lessons Learned: Dealing with People Who Don’t Want Help…

While Marsha respected her mom’s independence and valued her determination to remain “independent and in control,” she struggled with the reality of her mom’s refusal to accept help. Her mom Betty was newly widowed after 30+ years of marriage and was beginning to experience some confusion and early signs of dementia. Though she was overall healthy, Betty also had just begun to show signs of diabetes and her health was at risk due to uncontrolled blood sugars.

Marsha lived 2,000 miles away and couldn’t just run by to check her mom’s inventory of toilet paper and other staples. Betty was refusing any help. Bills weren’t being paid, and Betty was becoming more isolated as she was no longer able to drive.

After several other in-home services were all turned away at the door, Marsha finally connected with Lifesprk and Angela Nelson, RN, a Lifesprk Life Care Manager.

Though Betty initially would not let Angela in, Angela remained persistent, regularly showing up and working to engage Betty. Slowly she was able to build the trust that was needed for Betty to realize that Angela would respect her wishes and her control.

angela-nelson“Angela has been a start in the right direction,” adds Marsha. “She has been enormously helpful in her interface with the medical professionals and monitoring medications.”

The biggest surprise for Marsha was how Angela was able to connect with Betty and become a trusted partner in the journey when so many others weren’t able to accomplish that.

“At Lifesprk,” explains Angela, “our Lifesprk Experience model starts from the very beginning to discover what is most important to Betty. It is not my agenda or Marsha’s agenda — it is Betty’s agenda focused on her priorities. We’ve found that when you do that you align the rest of the efforts. Then we are working side by side as partners with Betty in control, rather than as a service happening to Betty.”

“Angela has helped to get my mom’s blood sugars to acceptable levels, especially given that my mom is a reluctant patient. Angela has also befriended my mom. She is a true professional with a genuine heart. The biggest relief for me has been having mom’s blood sugars under control. I dreaded the emergency health consequences of that uncontrolled diabetes.”

Marsha is certainly not the first adult child to face a challenging situation with a parent who is reluctant to accept help. Having been through it though, gives her a greater appreciation for what she wished she had known from the beginning.

Here are some of Marsha’s lessons-learned that she’d like to share with others:

  • Get a trusted advisor involved as soon as possible: “My recommendation would be to get someone like Angela involved earlier,” states Marsha. It gives you someone to turn to 24/7 with questions and concerns, creates a partner who will work with you and your loved one toward your loved one’s goals and enables your loved one to begin to build trust with someone who truly wants to help them maintain their control and independence.
  • Start early to build a team: “Should my mom face a severe health issue, become bed-ridden, encounter a long rehabilitation or whatever, I already have a trusted professional to lead us and comfort mom,” states Marsha.
  • Be respectfully persistent: As Angela discovered, being persistent paid off in slowly building trust. From the very beginning, Angela focused on connecting with Betty and what was most important to her. That enabled Angela to demonstrate to Betty that Betty remained in control.
  • Find the right partner: Look for a partner who brings that dedication to Betty — the client — first, who is willing to invest the time to build trust, and brings the proactive guidance that will help catch little issues before they become major problems.

For more information about Lifesprk, the Lifesprk Experience or Life Care Management services, call us at 952-345-8770 or email us.