What to Do When a Resident Refuses Care

As a professional in a senior care community, you likely encounter residents who have different needs and levels of receptiveness to care. While some residents may accept your assistance willingly, others may resist care due to various reasons. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s essential to know how to handle it effectively. In this guide, we will explore why residents resist care, types of care they typically resist, strategies to approach resistant residents, and ways to reduce resistance in your senior living facility.

Why Do Residents Resist Care?

There are several reasons why a resident may resist care. Cognitive decline, such as dementia, can make them cranky and resistant to help because they may not understand why care is necessary. However, even seniors without cognitive issues can be resistant to care due to different factors.

  • Fear: Aging and losing independence can be frightening. Some seniors resist care because they are scared of becoming a burden or injuring themselves. They may also fear what lies ahead in their life, including death.
  • Loss of control: Many individuals dislike surrendering control over their lives. Seniors may resist care because they want to maintain their independence and believe they can care for themselves, even if they need assistance.
  • Trust issues and poor coping skills: Negative experiences with caregivers or in healthcare facilities can create trust issues. Adjusting to new routines and accepting new levels of care can also be challenging for seniors.
  • Personality: Some seniors may have stubborn or resistant personality traits that persist into their later years.
  • Physical issues: In addition to fear and loss of control, an underlying physical condition, untreated condition, medication response, depression/anxiety, or pain can cause resistance to care.
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Types of Resistance Behavior

Resistance to care can manifest in various ways. The most common behavior witnessed by caregiving staff includes pulling away or becoming agitated during care. Other types of resistance behavior may include arguing, making poor choices, isolation, not asking for help, not taking medications, not eating, not bathing, not participating in activities, or hoarding.

Types of Care that Residents May Resist

Resistance to care often revolves around three main areas: bathing, eating, and grooming. To minimize resistance during these activities, approach residents in a non-threatening manner, speak to them at their level, and explain the importance of their care. Encourage their participation as much as possible.

  • Eating: If a resident resists eating, consider using non-stick plates and utensils, providing chopped or soft food, keeping them upright, avoiding arguments, reducing distractions, and supplementing meals with snacks if needed.
  • Bathing: Create a safe and comfortable bathing experience by adjusting water temperature, allowing residents to bathe themselves as much as possible, maintaining privacy, or using a bedside method if a bath or shower is not possible.
  • Grooming: Encourage residents to use products they like, allow them to perform grooming tasks they can handle, and offer praise and compliments for their efforts.

By following these tips, you can help make these necessary processes less challenging for residents resistant to care.

Strategies to Approach a Resident Resistant to Care

In addition to approaching resistance during daily activities, there are other strategies you can employ to mitigate and prevent resistance to care:

  • Listen to the resident: Take the time to listen and understand their concerns. Valuing their opinions and insights can help you determine the underlying reasons behind their resistance.
  • See their perspective: Try to empathize with the resident’s perspective and understand their fear of losing independence. Explain the importance of your assistance to make it easier for them to accept.
  • Stay focused: Give your undivided attention to each resident and task. Show them that you value their well-being and that their care is important.
  • Avoid threats: Never use threats to force a resident into accepting care. Instead, focus on understanding their behavior and finding ways to address their concerns.
  • Ask for help: If you’re having difficulty providing care, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from supervisors or colleagues. Another caregiver may be able to establish a better rapport with the resident.
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Understanding the reasons behind resistance and implementing appropriate strategies can help you provide care to resistant residents effectively. Consider providing additional training for staff to enhance their ability to handle residents who resist care.

For more information and training on creative approaches to care for resistant residents, visit 5 WS.

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