Community Blog

How to Communicate with an Elderly Loved One Stuck on "No"

By Michael Hagman, RN, BSN

Elderly Care in Great Falls MT

Sometimes no matter what you ask or offer your elderly loved one, the answer is no. This is typically the case with a loved one who has dementia or other cognitive issues, but you can run into the problem in all sorts of situations.

Show a Willingness to Compromise

The more that you stick to your guns, the less likely you are going to be able to work out a solution that suits both you and your elderly loved one. If the disagreement is over bathing, for example, try a compromise. A bath or a shower gets a definitive no, but how about a sponge bath in the sink? Or maybe she'll let you wash her hair for her. Find a compromise that you can live with and find out if she can, too.

Bribery Can Help

Parents are often told that they can't reward children saying no to them because that's going to encourage the no. That's true for young children, but your loved one is an adult who likely has compromised reasoning abilities. Bribing your elderly loved one with a reward that she'll enjoy for doing something that she's not happy about can make all the difference. Try thinking up a list of rewards during a calm time that you can use when things get stressful.

Offer Choices Rather than "Yes" or "No" Options

One way to sidestep the issue of "no" is to avoid using that as an answer. When you offer your loved one a choice rather than an opportunity to say no, you're more likely to find that she picks from one of the choices. For example, instead of asking your loved one if she wants to take a bath today, ask her if she wants to take a bath today or have her hair washed. Adding the choice removes the idea of saying no.

Try Not to Take No Personally

Finally, it's important that you learn that the no isn't personal. It can feel that way, especially if it's accompanied by a stink eye glare. But all of that can be related to the suggestion, not you. If you're having trouble with this, talk to your loved one's elderly care providers about how they manage to not take no personally when they hear it.

As you become more fluent in your loved one's new requirements, you can start to head off the amount of times that you hear "no" from her.

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elderly care in Great Falls, MT, contact the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (406) 438-2231.