What Do You Do When Your Caree Won’t?

wall-328628_640Last week, I presented at a conference for family caregivers in Oklahoma City. During my second presentation (“I’m Toast! Tips to Heal from Caregiving’s Difficult Emotions”), an attendee posed a question:

My caree won’t follow doctor’s orders on diet and exercise. What do I do?

Her frustration was such that she expressed anger and then sadness about the situation. She invites him to join her on her morning walks, she prepares healthy meals, she encourages him and expresses her love for him. And, yet, his decisions compromise his health.

This afternoon, one of our members shared a similar situation.

My hubby is getting worse and worse about not trying to do anything. All he wants to do is sleep. He will do what PT tells him to while she is here but doesn’t continue.

You do so much and, yet, you can feel like the situation is sinking fast because of your caree’s inaction. It’s frustrating, exasperating, worrisome, demoralizing and heart-breaking.

So, I’d love to know: How did you manage when your caree wouldn’t follow doctor’s orders or a treatment regime? What did you do to cope? What did you try that worked? That didn’t?

Please share your experiences in our comments section, below.

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8 Comments on "What Do You Do When Your Caree Won’t?"

Jun 19, 2014

I’ve been having similar problems. We’ve been at it 9 years. Up until about 2 years ago his stamina, optimism, and enthusiasm were great. He’s had serious setbacks and overcame then but the last neurological event set him back again and he hasn’t been able to muster the same determination. The following are some of things I’ve tried: I hire students to do speech and pt homework which I used to do with him. I had a local singer come and sing with him – he had a ball with her. They laughed like crazy and she even educated herself a little about SPL. She incorporated sounds and words he was working on into their warm-up. Many aspects of speech improved because of her including inflection, tone, volume and proper breath support. A key aspect was that she was a ball of fun. She stopped working with him a few months ago and his speech (as well as his mood) declined.

Generally I’ve found activities that are enjoyable and will get the same or close to the same results work well.

His diet’s a problem. We’ve been on very strict diets but now I try to do low fat low salt no sugar. Forget about no sugar. Neither of us has much will power. But he’s impossible.

The best I can do at this point is make healthy meals. I’ve lost the battle to his sweet tooth. Right now we’re in a really bad patch. Regarding coping: I guess I look for bright spots. I try not to think about financial doom and lately I’ve been making an effort to exercise. Hope this helps.

Profile photo of PearLady
Jun 19, 2014

Oh yeah…all the time. It’s exhausting to say the least. One doesn’t want to nag, but navigating can be tiring routine on its own, for both sides. The best thing I can say is the “pick your battles” line, compromise, and have patience. Focus on what does get done. Like…caree ate his peas today…had a good bm…etc. Encourage like you’re trying to get a toddler to try something new and never say “because such&such said so”. :)

Profile photo of Trish
Jun 19, 2014

Oh boy. Denise, you know this story but some of the new people here might not so I’ll share a shortened version. :-) It was a very difficult situation for me when my dad was sick. He was told he would die within 6 months without dialysis. He wouldn’t let me go to his appointments. He refused dialysis and yes, he died within 6 months. I tried everything to get him to accept treatment but he believed dialysis would be difficult and disruptive and he didn’t want to live like that. Nothing I could say would change his mind. He tended to listen more to Other Brother throughout our lives. His opinion that boys were smarter than girls was something I had to just accept as his opinion and tried to use it against him – I enlisted the help of Other Brother to get him to accept treatment. Even that didn’t work.

Unfortunately, nothing worked and he died exactly as the doctor had told him – within 6 months. It took me a long time to accept that this was his choice and I had done everything I could. It wasn’t easy to come to this acceptance and I sometimes still think about it – guilt creeping in – but that doesn’t do any good.

He made his choices and he was able to live his life like he wanted to. That thought makes me happy and helps me accept his decisions.

Profile photo of Susan
Jun 20, 2014

I think this is one of the most difficult situations for caregivers. My father is a diabetic and he loves to eat food that he knows he shouldn’t be eating. Then he pays the consequences. I think part of the problem is that they want to feel “normal” and in control of their own life, which means making their own decisions, even when they are the wrong ones. I can’t imagine everyone in your life telling you what to do and how to do it. The old saying, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink certainly applies to this situation. What I try to do is give him some control back in other areas of his life, such as picking out clothes, choosing how he wants to spend his day, giving him some little chores to do, like chopping vegetables, or folding clothes, so he can contribute and feel useful. I know everyone and every situation is different, but I think the bottom line is that they still need to have some ownership of their life and their opinions can still hold value.

Profile photo of Pegi
Jun 20, 2014

I agree with a couple comments, pick your battles and ultimately the choice is theirs, it’s their life and body. Most of the time my husband is compliant, in spite of the fact that he is well aware of the necessity of maintaining a renal and diabetic diet. It’s a real balancing act. I have reasoned, nagged, snickered and cried. All are exhausting a d unpleasant. The approach I stumbled on a while ago seems to be the most productive. I calmly give him the information on why he should or shouldn’t be eating/doing whatever and leave the decision to him. It usually works.