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keithold's avatar

How should you handle an elderly relative who won't take good advice about his health?

Asked by keithold (735points) December 12th, 2009

My elderly father fell on Friday night and hasn’t been able to walk since. He has also vomited during two successive nights. He had people coming to his 80th birthday party and didn’t want to let them down.

My brothers and I urged him to call an ambulance or visit the nearest hospital. He insisted on being driven to the hospital nearest his home. He turned away an ambulance my brother called for him and is on his way to the hospital.

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21 Answers

rooeytoo's avatar

He is on his way to the hospital now so that is a good thing.

It is hard to make anyone do what they don’t want to do, old folks no different.

Perhaps you can speak to the doctor who attends him and ask him for advice on how to deal with the situation.

alquest's avatar

The elderly people are stubborn and they are not prepare to listen and i think we should leave them alone.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

It’s hard. Many elderly people are afraid of losing their independence, so they may try to downplay any problems they are having. It might help if you explain to them that you’re concerned about their well-being, and support their right to live as they wish as long as it is safe for them to do so.

TexasDude's avatar

Sorry to hear that, keithold. My answer for you is supervision, if possible. My 77 year old grandfather has Alzheimer’s, and he is mostly functional, aside from the fact that he engages in pretty odd behaviors at times. He needs to be supervised regularly to get him to take his medication, eat properly, and avoid danger.

PrairieWind's avatar

Sorry Keithold:
Fathers no matter how old ,always want to call the shots on how they get help, if they should need any.
I know I’m one.
Hope your dad will be OK

Haleth's avatar

Well, I’m glad he’s on the way to the hospital. My grandmother can be very stubborn as well. She always falls asleep halfway on and halfway off her bed and gets back problems, so a lot of the time I have to wake her up and remind her to get in bed. Just talk to your dad about things like this in a reasonable, but persuasive way, and be ready to repeat yourself a lot if he’s stubborn.

faye's avatar

Best wishes. I went thru some of this with my mom.

seekingwolf's avatar

This is a very difficult situation. I have been in it several times.

You need to have a true sit-down conversation (preferably with the doctor too) to talk about his health and what he needs to do (for example, perhaps he needs to start using a walker or wheelchair because he is such a fall risk). You present them with the facts, the probabilities, the consequences (if they DON’T do what they should), everything. Stress that you are doing this because you love him, and you would like to have him be in the best shape he can for the longest time possible.

Then, back away. If he doesn’t listen after that, he won’t listen. You can’t FORCE him into anything; he’s a grown man and (unless proven otherwise) capable of making choices. It took my grandmother two freaking bone-breaking falls for her to finally wake up and start taking care of herself. It’s sad and I wish it didn’t have to happen, but she wouldn’t listen to us before. She’s better now, and I’m glad that at least she learned that she needs to follow the doctor’s orders.

I hope for your family’s sake, your father will take advice firsthand and not have to learn the painful way.

gemiwing's avatar

I echo what Seekingwolf said.

The only thing I have to add is you can purchase a tape for him to exercise to so he can stay more mobile. It’s called Sit and Be Fit (specifically the one for balance) and is for elderly/low mobility people to help develop strength and balance. It would be best if you were there and spotted him just because he has already fallen. of course talk to the doctor first and this is for later after he has healed

I hope he recovers quickly.

augustlan's avatar

I have nothing to add to @seekingwolf‘s great advice, but I wanted to extend my best wishes for his speedy recovery.

YARNLADY's avatar

My Father-In-Law is the same way and has refused to allow emergency personel into his apartment when he fell. He says if it’s his time to go, we have no right to take it away from him. He is capable of making his own decisions, and we have to respect that. He agreed to enroll in the Hospice program, paid for through the Veteran’s Administration. Now we just call them when there is any medical problems and they send a visiting nurse or personal assistant.

Jeruba's avatar

I hope that when I reach that stage my offspring will have the decency to let me go to hell in my own fashion.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Even though your father’s body is 80, inside his head he’s probably still somewhere around 40. While common sense dictates to you and your brothers that he needed an ambulance, inside his head, the tape being played is, “I’m not so old, this isn’t so bad, I can get to the hospital on my own.”

Is your mother still alive, and are your parents able to live independently? If not, perhaps it will be time to discuss, with his doctor, if he should consider an assisted living facility in order to maximize his independence, or how he should know when that time is appropriate.

My mother was diagnosed quite young with Alzheimers and it’s been a constant struggle to get her to accept appropriate care.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

We continually have this problem with my in-laws Keith. We just speak to them and offer to go with them to the doctor. Sometimes they don’t take care of themselves because they just don’t know what to do. If we go with them to the doctor, they feel much more comfortable that we will be able to help them ask the right questions, if nothing else. They’re in their 90’s and still live alone. They do pretty well for their age generally.

butterflykisses's avatar

Keith, My Grandmother was this way. She refused to listen to any one. She wouldn’t tell us when things were wrong. One day she came to me and she was crying, in pain. I begged her to go to the hospital and she wouldn’t. i called my father and he begged her to go. She refused. He picked her up…in his arms…threw her over his shoulder and put her in the car and took her. It was AWFUL! My Gram never cried, and never told us when she was hurting so we knew this was serious.

She ended up with colon cancer and there was nothing they could do. When I asked my gram why? She said she was afraid to know what was wrong. Many elderly are afrad to know what is wrong with them. That is why for some they refuse medical treatment. My elderly uncle is the same way. My approach to him is so different now. I reassure him again and again that the tests and the check ups will help prevent any illness or find it before it gets worse. It is not easy. Talk to his Doctor. Let him/her know what is going on. Doctors have a way of helping with these things. they can help you too with great advise.

There are also agencies for the elderly that you can speak to with your concerns, they too have wonderful tools and advise for caring for the elderly. I wish you and your father all the best.

Mavericksjustdoinganotherflyby's avatar

Sorry to hear about that kiethold and I would like to thank everyone who has answered with thoughtful responses to this question. My parents and in-laws are getting up there too, and I know sooner or later I will be having dealing with the same problems.
It sucks having to watch the ones you love getting old and deteriorating, and I will certainly take alot of what I’ve read here to heart.

nitemer's avatar

Leave him be, respect his wishes, give him the opportunity to ask for assistance if he so desires.

butterflykisses's avatar

@nitemer If I would of left my grandmother be she would of suffered and suffered. If I would of been more of a pest she might of had a lot more years. My grandmother was afraid to die, she didn’t want to die and she was so angry that she didn’t take our advise or listen to our concerns. she blamed herself and said over and over when I was tending to her in her final days I am so sorry, so very sorry.

She would of done anything the moment she heard the news that she had only a few weeks to live to change how she lived her golden years, she would of went for the tests, went to the doctor like I asked. She had a great grand baby on the way.

Don’t ever leave your loved ones be! Always show your love and concern. Do everything you can to help them and step when it comes to their health. They will thank you for it, they may bitch and moan and groan the whole way there, but they will in the end know you love them and care.

YARNLADY's avatar

@buttkisses That is very good advice. However, when they refuse to even let the EMT use a blood pressure cuff, and refuse to open their mouth for the doctor to check their throat, and say get away when the visiting nurse tries to listen to their heart, you are pretty much stuck sitting there and watching them waste away.

butterflykisses's avatar

I agree when it is to that point then they do know what they really want. Usually from what I have seen in nursing homes that I worked in, thats when they have given up, or their husband/wife has passed on and they are ready.

My gram was just scared, and many are.

nitemer's avatar

@buttkisses I am sure you loved her and believe me you have done everything for her that you could. God bless you.

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