Uprooting an elderly loved one and moving them into your home is difficult enough, but add to that the resistance you may receive, and the caregiving becomes an all-encompassing activity. Your loved one’s natural tendency is to resist care and assistance, if only because they do not want to think of themselves as old.


Often caregivers will become easily angered and irritated at the thought of a loved one refusing care. This conflict can be very damaging to the entire caregiver/recipient experience. Understanding the stress and loss of independence your relative faces when they give up their home is the first step in easing the tense situation.  Here are a few other ideas that may be helpful if you are experiencing any resistance in your daily caregiving.


  • Allow loved ones to have a part in the decision making process surrounding their care and well-being. Do not let them feel they have no say in their future, and allow them the chance to voice their opinion about the care they would like to receive.


  • The senior may want to argue or bring up past actions that occurred so try to remain focused on the matter of their care, and do not retaliate say anything you may regret later.


  • Remember to think of your own needs, and set limits in the amount of work you’re willing to take on. Perhaps you provide the in-home care for them, are unwilling to bathe them, yet your loved one refuses to allow a home-care aide to assist you. Explaining your feelings to your relative and being honest with what you’re willing to help with can allow you the control of the situation.


  • Be willing to work with the senior in order to find some kind of agreement. If they refuse full-time care and you disagree entirely, consider alternative such as a weekly visit from a health aide and Meals on Wheels service that may ease tension and be agreed upon by both of you.


  • Realize that they are more than likely not going to be content with the situation, so focus on maintaining the quality of care. They may not look forward to having someone bathe them and cook for them, but you know the difference you make with this care and the senior will, in time, grow accustomed to the change.


  • Do not make the situation entirely about them, instead allow them to see it through your eyes to get an idea of the work you put forth. Tell them the stress and workload you face and their understanding and willingness to resist you in the future may be lessened. They will look at it as an opportunity to help you while you are helping them.
  • Try gradually introducing new ways to your loved one’s life so as to not suddenly change everything they have grown accustomed to over the years. Alert them to any fears you may have, prepare them for these changes, and be as calm and positive as possible to reassure them it is for the best.


Remember to plan ahead in case of a sudden decline in health or hospitalization, because it is at these moments where you may face the least resistance and it gives you the opportunity to alter their daily care in the manner you see appropriate.

Lois Young-Tulin

Lois Young-Tulin, PhD, is an Assistant Geriatric Care Manager at Complete Care Strategies

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