My mother needs some help with household chores, but she is refusing. How can I get her to accept a home care aide?
Barbara: Why is this so common – older people don’t want anyone to help them! Mama, there have been times recently that I thought it would be a good idea for you to have help in the house. Do you remember when you were on medication and the doctor and I were worried about falling. You were willing to have someone in the house then, but once you were off the medication you didn’t want it anymore.
Dearie: Yes, I was willing to have someone here at that time, but I’m fine now, back to my old self.
Barbara: That’s not totally the case. I think you could use some help now. I think it’s harder for you to keep up with things – mail, shopping, laundry. Wouldn’t you like someone to do those things for you so you’d have the energy to do the things you like to do like go to book discussion and exercise class?
Dearie: I’m really fine. I like keeping up with those things. I’m not having trouble.
Barbara: But, Mama, I think you are. I’m a little worried for you. You know, when you were working, it seemed perfectly fine to have someone help in the house. Why is this different?
Dearie: Don’t be silly. I was busy and there was a lot to keep up with – a big house, dinner every night on the table, laundry for a whole family, and I was working every day.
Barbara: So it’s about you’re being retired and being older and thinking you have all the free time in the world now and should do all those things by yourself.
Dearie: Yes, it’s about that and feeling responsible for myself, not wanting to depend on anyone.
Barbara: In my social work world we say you are being fiercely independent.
Dearie: Well, yes, who would want to be anything but independent?
Barbara: You mean, it’s a sign of being old. And maybe you don’t like that.
Dearie: That could be part of it. It’s hard to accept that you can’t do certain things anymore.
Barbara: You can’t help but change as you get older, there are things that aren’t so easy anymore, takes more energy, more time. I know you don’t like to think you are getting old, or in fact are old!
Dearie: I know you think I’m being stubborn and I don’t want to spend the money.
Barbara: I sure do think you are being stubborn. There are changes. I’ve noticed you don’t walk as fast or as well anymore, and your hearing is pretty bad. I’d like you to try having an aide here a few hours a week, give it a chance, see what might feel ok.
Dearie: When you tell me I need help, it frightens me.
Barbara: I’m sorry, I don’t mean to frighten you, it’s just that I worry! I don’t want you to get hurt.