What if a Senior Parent with Dementia Says “No”?

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Tips for Communicating When an Older Loved One with Dementia Says No in Waterloo, ON

The reality of being a caregiver for a senior with dementia is that it isn’t always easy. There may come a time when your loved one gets stubbornly opposed to something and absolutely refuses to comply with your wishes. Repeatedly saying “no” to things that are necessary for maintaining your loved one’s health and wellbeing could lead to serious issues. Here are a few tips for managing this challenging situation. 

Reconsider the Importance of the Request

Dementia caregivers often need to learn to be a little more flexible. Think about whether the thing your loved one is saying “no” to is necessary or not. For example, it won’t cause any major problems if your loved one insists on wearing a Christmas sweater instead of the outfit you picked out. As long as your loved one is safe and happy, it may not be worth pressing the issue. 

Use Physical and Visual Cues Instead of Just Talking

Sometimes seniors with dementia say “no” to a request because they don’t understand it. Instead of just asking the question, use body language, motions, and other physical cues to make the question clearer. For example, instead of just asking “Do you want dinner?” point to the food while you mimic the gesture of eating. Use a calm voice and put on a happy expression to further reassure your loved one when he or she wants to say “no.”

A trained caregiver with experience in caring for seniors with dementia can be a fantastic resource for family members. Families looking for top-rated elderly home care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.

Blame Someone Else for Overriding the “No”

Though it’s important to respect your loved one’s wishes, there may be things such as taking medication or hiring an in-home caregiver that absolutely need to be done. In these cases, sympathize with your loved one, but tell him or her it’s the doctor’s orders. Bringing an authority figure into the discussion may help your loved one move past the desire to say “no.” 

Professional caregivers with training and expertise in dementia care can often identify the sources of communication issues and respond effectively and compassionately. Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Waterloo families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care.

Offer Choices

Some seniors with dementia say “no” because they want to express their independence. Providing a choice routes this desire for independence down a better pathway. Ask questions such as “Would you rather have chicken or turkey for dinner?” and “Do you want to brush your teeth or comb your hair first?” instead of just trying to force your loved one into one specific activity. 

Figure Out the Meaning Behind the “No”

In the later stages of dementia, seniors tend to lose much of their language skills. “No” is often one of the last words to remain because it’s one of the first words we learn, so seniors may use it to express feelings such as “I don’t understand” or “I don’t know what to say.” If your loved one’s tone and body language remain positive, slowly continue as if he or she hasn’t said “no.” Watch your loved one’s reaction and stop if he or she expresses distress or seems frustrated. 

If your loved one constantly replies “no,” these suggestions can help you understand and communicate better with him or her. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Waterloo Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. If you need professional home care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (519) 954-2111.


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