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Why don’t the family believe me?

One of the most frustrating things when working as a live-in carer is when you tell the family one thing, and the client tells them the opposite. What is even more frustrating is when the family simply do not seem to believe you.

Sometimes as carers we feel that we should keep the family updated about the condition of their loved one, and while this is important, often it seems that family do not believe us.

Why is this so?

The truth is possibly that no one wants to be told that their loved one is going downhill. No one wants to hear that you feel the end is near, and neither do they want to be told that their loved one is not recovering, rather is getting worse.

Often it seems that when family visit you and their loved one, your client seems to summon every resource in their body so that they appear their best for the family visit. Because of this, family tend to see mom at her best for the duration of the visit.

Your client dresses her best for the family visit, may even put on a little makeup, she eats well, drinks a decent amount, chats with the family, and manages to basically put on a good show for them.

What they see is their mom ‘doing just fine.’ They return home happy, knowing that mom is happy and well, ‘much better than last time we visited.’ What they do not see is the aftereffect of their visit. This is like a big old balloon deflating slowly right in front of you. Your client may simply seem to curl up right in front of you out of sheer exhaustion.

Mental and physical exhaustion

Not only is your client physically tired after a visit, but most likely she is also mentally exhausted from having to keep up a conversation for most of the day, summon all her strength to appear ‘normal’, and do things to please the family during the day. 

Your client may have walked far more than she normally would when only you are there, she may have missed her after lunch nap, and had to focus more than she might ever do when alone.

Little wonder, then that your client is exhausted after a visit.

Also, little wonder then that the family simply don’t believe you when you report how your client is tired and not able to do some things, how our client seems to have taken a turn downhill, or how your client is not doing as well as she was when they visited her.

What to do?

Apart from taking one family member aside and explaining how things really are when your client is alone with you, if they do not want to believe the way things are, they won’t. Sometimes it is easier to bury one’s head in the sand than to face an issue. 

Facing an issue of deterioration means that two things can happen:

  • The situation is ignored (in the vain hope that it will return to normal or go away)
  • The situation is accepted, and something must be done (such as installing grab rails or a stairlift, etc.)

If you have broached the subject with family about how changes could be made and receive no acceptance, then you may need to talk to your agency to set the wheels in motion. 

You can also call the doctor to ask for a referral for the District Nurse to assess your client. She will be able to advise you on anything that can be put in place to make things easier for both of you.

Final thoughts

Sometimes family will simply never accept what you are telling them, and there is no point in forcing the issue as this will just make things uncomfortable for you and them. You may need to leave things alone until eventually someone sees for themselves that all is not well with their loved one.

What is important is that, even though the family may be in denial about their loved one, you do all you can to make things easier and better for your client. Ask for help where you can and make sure that your client’s health and safety are primary. 

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