Photo by Aaron Andrew Ang on Unsplash

People care for those who are in need. Kindness is so abundant that it can easily be given to others. However, how should one face stubborn patients, those who act like they don’t want help despite needing it?

Everyone is encouraged to help those in need. Society recognizes and awards people who go out of their way to help others, commending their behaviors. Kindness is one of those values deeply engraved in some people’s minds. It not only eases another’s burden but also fulfills the person who is giving their care. However, it only becomes gratifying if the receiver opens their heart and wholeheartedly receives the help; otherwise it can be burdensome to the caregiver.

If there’s a positive consequence found in people’s post-pandemic caregiving, it’s the increase in family caregivers. People have found strength in managing the stress senior relatives may be experiencing. Caregiving is a commitment that family should do with pride.

Aside from the natural affinity to help and go out of their way to provide comfort, caregivers require an abundance of patience when caring for stubborn patients, particularly family. When one reaches out to help, these gestures sometimes get swatted away in anger. In some instances, they may feel angry or embarrassed. However, they may also be too stubborn to accept the much-needed help.

Avoidance would be the easiest route to take when dealing with stubborn patients. However, if they’re family, showing no concern is pointless, not to mention heartless. In this case, it’s best to find a way to address matters now before they become more serious and a crisis.  

First, Why Do They Resist the Help They Need?

Talking to stubborn patients is like talking to a brick wall.

Getting something through to someone who has already set their mind can be tricky. If one tries talking these individuals through something they aren’t open to considering, it may feel like forcing them against their will, which may backfire later. To convince them to accept help, one must first understand the whys  reason behind their behavior.

Regardless of how evident their need for help is, a stubborn person will always refuse to give in. This could be because they fear being seen as vulnerable or helpless. It could also be due to their misperception, where they perceive themselves as capable of managing their pain or whatever the situation may be. Either way, helping stubborn patients can take a toll on the caregiver and cause a delay in providing assistance.

Understanding their reasons and empathizing with them can help with what they’re experiencing. After all, aging or being in a medical debacle is scary, and not being understanding is not helpful.

How Does One Respond to Stubborn Patients?

It might not make sense, but independence is means a great deal to seniors.. When they’re suddenly faced with the possibility of losing independence it can cause a surge of negative emotions like fear and frustration.

With this, caregivers must approach them with reassurance and validation. They must acknowledge this fear while responding and communicating the help they need. If their refusal persists, care providers can consider these strategies for help:

Re-Evaluate the Situation

Before formulating another way to help, caregivers must reassess the situation. Is the caregiver overreacting and being over-protective?  Do the elder relatives need assistance at this time?

Reassessing whether someone needs help allows the individual to prioritize which matters must be addressed first. This also ensures that the receiver’s independence isn’t disregarded. Re-evaluating whether help is necessary means if help benefits the other or will it only satisfy the caregiver’s need.

Make the Help About the Giver

This doesn’t invalidate the elder’s needs but is a means to validate their need for independence. Instead of emphasizing what the elder person needs and what they can’t do, the caregiver must make the situation about them. This isn’t to make them a narcissist, nor does it take away the value of the help provided. But in making the situation about them, the caregiver removes the burden and eases the receiver’s minds away from their limitations. Reframing the conversation to point at the caregiver’s worries makes the receiver believe they aren’t being a burden, given the other is only doing this to ease their needs. It’s quite the irony from the other person’s point but making the situation about one’s needs can be beneficial depending on how the point gets delivered by the caregiver.