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What to Do When Your Elderly Parent Refuses Help

When an elderly parent refuses help, it can put a great strain on you. You can see that your mom or dad can’t function like they used to. They may exhibit signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

You notice that they’re more frail, and they aren’t keeping up with everyday chores. You offer to help, but you’re met with a wall of resistance.

“I’m fine!” is the normal response.

What can you do to help your elderly parent? Read on find out how you can work with your elderly parent’s stubborn refusal and get them the help that they need.

Why Do Parents Refuse Help?

When your elderly parent refuses advice, it helps to realize that they’re not angry with you. They are not lashing out at you.

It may feel that way and you might think that they’re being stubborn. You’re certainly not alone. About 77% of middle-aged children think that their aging parents are stubborn.

Why do aging parents refuse help? Mostly because they don’t want to be old or be told that they’re old. Being old may not seem like a positive thing in our society. Admitting that you need help or that you can’t do something because of age can feel like a defeat for many people.

Add that to feelings of dependency on another person and they can feel disempowered. Again, our society places a high value on individualism and independence. They just want to live life like they always have.

When you understand what’s really going on beneath the surface of their refusals, it can be easier to come to an agreement to get your mom or dad the help that they need.

Tips for When Your Elderly Parent Refuses Help

How can you help your mom or dad with their everyday chores, and let them maintain their sense of independence? Check out these tips.

Frame the Conversation Positively

Generally speaking, people don’t like to be told what to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s a company telling them that they should purchase a product or a loved one saying they shouldn’t drive anymore.

When was the last time someone told you to do something you didn’t want to hear? Did you take it well? Probably not.

You can encourage your elderly parent to accept help by framing the conversation as an offer for help rather than a directive. For example, if you were to say, “You can’t drive anymore because you can’t see well,” it probably won’t go over that well.

If instead you say something like “Why don’t I take you to your doctor’s appointment  this afternoon and we can go out to the park afterward?” That doesn’t seem like a direction, but rather an offer to help.

A lot of the time, the more direct you are about offering to help, the more resistance will come up. Your job is to get around the resistance by being less direct and offering options. Let them make the choice for themselves instead of you making the choice for them.

Give Them Help That’s Not Really Care

If your elderly parent refuses help from you, they may be willing to accept help from someone else. You also don’t want that person to come across as a complete stranger.

You can make a warm introduction to someone who can help with yard chores for starters. You want to start with something small to get your mom or dad open to accepting more help down the road.

A good way to do that is to start by saying to your parent that you have someone who’s helping you around the house or with small projects for the yard. You think they do such great work that they’d be a great fit to help your parent out with a few things around the house. Besides, a little extra business would be good for them.

When framed this way, your mom or dad is helping someone else make a living by accepting help for a few things around the house. It’s a win-win situation.

If They Still Refuse…

There’s a chance that your aging parent may still refuse help after these conversations. That’s completely normal. Some people are a little more willing to accept help and others are more eager to maintain their independence.

At this point, you’re really only starting the conversation with your loved one. Getting someone to accept help is an ongoing process.

A good way to continue the conversation is to be completely transparent. Ask your parent about how they’re feeling. Ask them what their fears around aging are.

These aren’t easy questions but getting them to open up about what’s going on can lead to accepting help down the road. These conversations, although sometimes difficult, can help build trust between you and your parent.

You also have to weigh how important the situation is. Has your parent’s situation become a safety issue? If it is, then there’s a sense of urgency in those conversations that may require the help of a counselor.

If you’re stuck and don’t know what to do, you can always get a Senior Care Consultation to help guide you.

A Solution That Works for Your Elderly Parent

If your parent refuses help from you to take care of things around the house or to help with healthcare needs, perhaps a move into assisted living could give them easy access to the care they need as well as a sense of independence.

Our homes are designed for people with memory issues to get personalized care. Our staff to client ratio is small, so you can rest easy knowing that your loved one is in a situation where they can be happy and thrive.

Want to learn more? Take a look at our residential homes today.