Tips for Responding When an Aging Adult with Dementia Says “No”

By , 9:00 am on

The cognitive changes that accompany dementia sometimes cause older adults to become stubborn. While it may be frustrating when your senior loved one refuses to go along with your requests, remember it’s difficult to understand his or her line of thinking. In most cases, your loved one isn’t trying to upset you. Instead, he or she may be confused, afraid, or engaged with some other type of activity. Fortunately, you can use these tips to successfully handle situations when your loved one says “no.”

Accept a Compromise

Your loved one may say “no” to an activity such as taking a shower because he or she associates it with unpleasant sensations. However, your loved one may be perfectly fine with taking a bath or having you wash his or her hair at the sink. If your loved one says “no,” try to think of another way to accomplish the same task. Changing the activity a little bit may be enough to shift your loved one’s perspective.

Try Using Vague Language

There may be certain requests that trigger an instant negative response from your loved one. For instance, he or she may refuse to go with you to the bathroom or get in the car to go to the doctor. For these situations, try saying you’re going to go on a little walk or trip together. Your loved one is likely to comply with going for a walk, even if it’s just to the bathroom.

Give It Several Tries

People with dementia sometimes change their minds after having some time to respond again. Try making your first request simple. If that receives a “no,” rephrase it by adding something to pull on your loved one’s emotions, such as saying how you like the way he or she helps you do the task. Finally, make the request again, but add a physical touch or visual cue. After three tries, your loved one may decide to give in. 

A trained caregiver with experience in caring for seniors with dementia can be a fantastic resource for family members. Families looking for top-rated Caledon home care service 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.

Follow Up the Request with a Reward

Although some caregivers prefer not to bribe, there are some times when you may need to do whatever it takes to get your loved one to say “yes.” Try to offer a reward you know he or she will love and that you can easily manage. For instance, you could suggest going out for ice cream after finishing a medical appointment or bath. Your loved one will hear the reward offer as the last part of your request, which is more likely to help him or her feel comfortable going along with it. 

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. Caledon 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.

Provide Choices

You can also eliminate “no” responses by making it impossible to say it. Try offering two choices so your loved one can only answer one or the other. For instance, you could ask if he or she would like a bath or a shower. Your loved one will sense the need to choose one, and having options provides a sense of control that stops him or her from saying “no.”

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 Caledon 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 care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at 905-951-8885.