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Elderly Parent Refuses Help: What to Do

Right now, your parent may be saying one of the following statements:

  • I don’t need help. I can take care of myself.
  • I don’t want to go to an old folks home.
  • Are you saying I’m too old? I’m not. I can still do it all.

These statements may be true at times. But your parent isn’t always a superhero. And that’s OK. But right now, your parent needs to be convinced of this fact. In this post, we will show you how to deal with an elderly parent who refuses help.

What to Do When Elderly Parents Refuse Help

When elderly parents refuse help, there are a number of steps you can take:

1. Ask questions

It’s important to start early with parents by asking hypothetical questions like, “How would you feel about hiring a housekeeper?” or “Would you accept help from a driver to your doctor’s appointments?” This will keep you prepared when a health crisis arises. However, if you missed out on these conversations, you can still dig for answers in a different context. “Are you afraid of losing privacy?” “Are you nervous about having a stranger in your home?” Being empathetic could help you tailor your response and will ultimately make you appear more trustworthy in convincing your elderly parents they need help.

2. Be indirect

You tried outright telling your parent to get help but that didn’t work. Try to be more subtle. Say, “I was talking to my friend’s mom about her in-home caregiver and she would not shut up about how amazing it was to receive so much help.” If your parent is still being stubborn, turn the situation around: “I worry every single day about what might happen to you. Please get some help so I can get piece of mind.” You can even turn it around on the grandkids: “Your grandkids love you and I want them to have the same wonderful experience with you as I did while growing up. The only way that can happen is if you get help.”

3. Carefully accept the situation

Dealing with elderly parents who refuse help is nothing like dealing with a stubborn child. Your parents are adults, and you shouldn’t deny their agency. However, be wary if you feel like a loved one could be a harm to themselves or others. As they say, pick your battles.

Understanding Your Parent’s Refusal

When an elderly parent refuses help, it can be for a whole host of reasons. This can include a fear of feeling “less than” or an overall fear of change. The important thing is for you to be empathetic to their needs. It may seem like an inconvenience for you to go through this, but your parent is going through far worse right now. Introduce these new changes into their life gradually, and they will hopefully come around. The only thing you can do is be there for them.

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