Many seniors refuse to see a doctor when they should. One of the most difficult tasks in caring for the elderly can be convincing them to see the doctor when necessary. Most people are willing to see the doctor when they are sick, assuming they have insurance or sufficient financial resources, but many seniors either give what most people consider irrational reasons for resisting medical care or give no reason at all, which is the most difficult situation to confront. They may have a rational or irrational fear of hospitals. They may have been resistant to medical care all of their lives, but have grown even more so in later life. They may be afraid to see the doctor, for fear that they’ll find out they need to have an operation. It can be a very frustrating situation for family members who care for the elderly, when medical care is desperately needed but they refuse to see the doctor. If you take the time to explore the minds of seniors, they may not seem quite as irrational. By understanding their fears, you will be more empathetic and better equipped to help allay their fears.
Some people have been very healthy all their lives and it is true that the body cures a lot of problems by itself. That mysterious nagging pain will gradually disappear. The body is very resilient and has many built-in protections to heal itself and that has usually worked for them. My grandmother lived to the age of 83 and was never a patient in a hospital. She had very few trips to the doctor. These people tend to believe what worked in the past will always work.
Some Seniors have Traditionally Relied on Home Remedies
Older people used a lot of home remedies which worked more often than not. My grandfather placed a lot of faith in turpentine to heal cuts and sores. I had an infected hangnail on my finger. It was throbbing so bad that it awakened me. I didn’t know any alternative so I decided to test my grandfather’s folklore. I soaked my finger fifteen minutes in a bowl of turpentine and it never bothered me another minute.
I have a very cautious nature myself, so I thoroughly understand the reticence to see the doctor. I am facing cataract surgery. I know that cataract surgery is considered a very successful operation but like all surgery, carries risks. My theory is that poor eyesight is far superior to no eyesight, therefore I have only recently scheduled cataract surgery. I have probably waited longer than most people would have, but I now figure the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks.
Unless the situation is life-threatening, I believe it is best to let the senior make their own decisions as long as they have their mental faculties. Imagine how you would feel if you encouraged your family member to have a cataract operation while they still had a degree of useful sight, and they became one of the statistics and completely lost their sight.
If you truly believe they have a life-threatening condition, I believe you do need to convince them to see a doctor. If they might possibly need a heart operation, you might be sure they understand the new advances in the field. Perhaps they could talk to a friend who had stents implanted or had a successful heart operation. I do believe it is the duty of the caregiver to cajole or even threaten the patient to convince then to at least have a consultation. Quite often the disapproval of their child is enough to force them to see the doctor.
After a diagnosis and obtaining the options for treatment, I still believe the caregiver must respect the opinion of the patient, again assuming they have their mental faculties. They definitely should be fully aware of the probable consequences of not pursuing treatment, as unpleasant as they may be. If they still refuse treatment, the fact remains that it is still their life to do with as they wish.
If they live alone, a medical alert system which allows them to call for help if they can’t reach a phone, is a fine idea.
When they have made their final, fully informed decision, you still need to give them, without reservation, your full love and support. You can take comfort in the fact that you have done your absolute best.
Disclaimer: I am not a health care professional. This article is for informational purposes only. It is not the purpose of this article to give medical advice. I am only relating my opinions and experiences and my opinions could be wrong. Any actions you take as a result of reading this article, you take at your own risk. Always seek advice from a doctor or health care professional before making any health care decisions.