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How can I convince my aunt take care of hygiene, grooming and medical?

My elderly aunt lives alone, she has never been married and has no children. I'm her only niece and have stepped in to try get a handle on things for her. I live in a different city from my aunt, but thank God, I have a cousin and a family friend who check in on her on a regular basis. Each of us have tried to talk to her about her hygiene and grooming, as well as going to the doctor. I know she has a fear of falling in the tub, but she wouldn't allow us to hire someone to come in to assist. We've talked to her about moving to an assisted living facility and she's adamant that she will remain in her home. I've talked to someone at an Aging agency and was told that as long as she can still do for herself and is no harm to herself, medical attention or any other service can not be forced on her. She is very stubborn and resists any suggestion we have.We're at our wits end and feel like our hands are tied.
Status: Open    Jan 19, 2016 - 09:31 AM

Senior Health & Nutrition, Caregiving

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Expert Answers

Jan 19, 2016 - 11:45 AM

If you stop to think about your aunt's situation, it becomes a little easier to understand her resistance. It's not surprising that a person that has had a long and independent life would resist accepting another person to come in and take over the activities that she has always managed. Giving up ones indenpendence and in some cases their pride initially, is not an easy thing. You might want to try a more subtle approach. For instance, see if she would be more accepting of having someone come by to take her to a senior center, beauty parlor, or just to get out for some fresh air. Anything that she would enjoy. Offer one small suggestion at a time, try to make it sound fun, and see if she'll warm up to it. This will help to build comfort and trust in a caregiver. If you can do this repeatedly with a caregiver that has the skills needed to assist her with her personal needs, the level of comfort and appreciation will likely increase over time to the point that assistance with any need can be addressed.

Jan 20, 2016 - 07:56 AM

You may want to hire a Geriatric Care Manager who would visit your Aunt and work WITH her to provide an assessment and recommendation. She may have more acceptibility with a professional than a family member.

Jan 22, 2016 - 03:38 PM

I can understand your frustration. My elderly cousin was in a similar situation. Like your aunt, she had been a single lady all of her life. She always took pride in her appearance. I would appeal to that sense of pride to convince her to accept help for her grooming. She eventually consented to my help in hiring an aide to assist her with bathing. Eventually, she bonded with the aide and had her assist her in more activities of daily living.

She would probably benefit from a therapy evaluation by a home health agency. The therapist will evaluate her home for safety and make suggestions for any improvements. The therapist will also teach her measures that she can take to continue to care for herself, safely. In the meantime, make sure that her bathroom is safe. Does she have grab bars, especially for getting in and out of her tub? Does she have non slip material on the tub surface? There are benches that can be purchased for the tub, so she can easily slide in and out. Some of these changes may help her feel more secure when bathing.

Good luck in finding an acceptable solution for your aunt. Don’t give up. Sometimes, it takes time for someone to accept these changes in their lives
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