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Bursack: a caretaker frustrated by her mother who does not want physical therapy

Dear Carol, My 93-year-old mother is mentally agitated and lives in her own retirement home. As one would expect, she suffers from physical problems, including arthritis severe enough to require a hip replacement from 80 years. She uses a walker but her balance is uncertain even with that. I would like her to undergo physical therapy to help her improve her balance because of the risk of falling. I contacted a doctor and she told me that a therapist could come to the apartment twice a week, but Mom refuses.

She takes few medications so that nothing is detrimental, but I can see that we can change, if not to improve her balance. I'm sorry she does not allow this therapist to help her. She's always hated people who care for her, so I understand where she's coming from, but she still needs this therapy to stay upright. How can I convince her? – MJ.

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Dear MJ, It's hard to be in your place, to want to do your best for your mother and then let her refuse what you think is reasonable. Yet your mother has lived a long life and can, at this time of life, simply want to live every day as she did. It's also understandable.

In addition, she probably does not like the idea of ​​bringing a stranger to her home for a number of reasons, but most importantly, a home therapy probably signals her the beginning of a loss of life. private that may be unavoidable for her. health declines. Your mother's balance, however, is disturbing. At her age, she could easily break her remaining natural hip or damage the prosthesis of her other hip. This could in turn mark the end of its independence.


Have you approached to examine his situation through this lens? If she can view therapy as an extension of her independence rather than a step forward to lose her, she may be more willing. If she suffers a lot, it could also be a factor behind her refusal.

Physicians are justifiably reluctant to prescribe many pain medications to older patients because side effects can be harmful and may contribute to falls. Nevertheless, seniors deserve to be relieved of the pain associated with a number of problems, including arthritis. If the pain seems to be causing your mother's reluctance to start PE, you may want to point out that physical therapy can also help you.

If you have sweet conversations with your mother and she still refuses to try the PT, your role will be to step back at the moment and maybe try again after a while. . She may need to feel that she has made that decision herself.

If she continues to refuse over time, you may have to accept that it's her choice. If she is reasonably satisfied as she is and if she is aware of the risks, then you have done what you can do.

Carol Bradley Bursack is a veteran caregiver and established columnist. She is also a blogger and the author of "Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Tell Their Own Stories". Bradley Bursack hosts a website for caregivers and seniors at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be contacted at carolbradleybursack@mindingourelders.com.

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