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What to Do When Your Parent Refuses Help

What to Do When Your Parent Refuses Help

Eugene had run the family farm for decades. Even now, at the age of 84, he still took charge of chores around the house. But, after his wife died, his health began to fade, and his mind started slipping. His children could see that he needed some help around the house. Not only were there tasks that were difficult or dangerous for him, he had also started forgetting to do things.

One day, when his daughter Marie stopped by for lunch, she found Eugene outside working in the yard. Inside, one of the gas burners of the stone had been left on, which meant it had probably been on since breakfast.

Worried about his health and safety, his family sat down with him to discuss having help around the house. Eugene politely resisted at first. But, as the conversation went on and his family members pressed harder, Eugene became angry. He insisted he was an adult and every bit as capable as everyone else in the room, maybe even more so.

Unfortunately, Eugene’s story isn’t unusual. Many older adults refuse the help of their adult children and other family members. And, when family members suggest hiring elderly care, the discussion can sometimes get even more difficult. Accepting help is problematic for seniors because it feels like a loss of independence. Then, when help comes in the form of a strangers, as with elderly care, they also don’t like the idea of having a stranger in their home.

So, what can you do when you can see your parent needs help, but they have their heels firmly dug in and refuse to budge?

Here are some tips and strategies that may turn the conversation around and result in a positive outcome.

Go in with a Plan

If the conversation involves more than one person speaking to the older adult about the situation, it’s a good idea to sit down and formulate a plan before the conversation. Make sure that everyone is on the same page so that there’s no dissension between siblings and you can present a unified front.

Talk About it Over Time

Unless there is an emergency situation and your parent requires immediate assistance, don’t expect to talk them into accepting elderly care in just one conversation. Instead, introduce the idea slowly. When your parent complains about aching knees after cleaning the house, say something like, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone clean the house for you?” Or, if they get frustrated by having to ask someone to drive them places ask, “Don’t you wish you had someone that could drive you places every day?”

Discuss Independence

If you suspect that your parent is afraid of losing independence, don’t shy away from the subject. Talk to them about how they are feeling. Explain how elderly care can actually allow them to remain independent longer. Tell them about how an elderly care provider can drive them where they need to go, so they can get to the grocery store, attend religious services, and see friends.

Tell Your Side

Explain to your parent that you worry about them, and that can sometimes interfere with your day. If you spend a lot of time providing care for your parent already and are trying to get them to accept elderly care so you can take a break, tell them. Most parents don’t want their children to suffer, so it can help to explain that accepting elderly care will improve your life, too. Don’t take your parent on a guilt trip but do express that you want them to be a part of your life for as long as possible. Accepting elderly care can mean living a healthier, longer life.

Suggest a Trial Period

Offering your parent a chance to “try before they buy” may soften them up a bit. Okay, obviously they’ll have to pay to try having an elderly care provider, but you can offer them an out by suggesting that they try it for a few weeks and see what they think. Tell them that if they do not like it, they can cancel the service. Chances are they will go into it thinking they’ll humor you for a few weeks and that will end the conversation. But, after having a cheerful, supportive elderly care provider assisting them with all those things that are difficult and take them away from more enjoyable activities, they aren’t likely to want to give it up.

Enlist Help

Sometimes older adults have a difficult time taking advice from their children. If that’s the case, it can be helpful to ask a trusted authority figure to join the conversation. Ask a doctor, clergy person, or someone else your parent trusts to help you talk to your parent about allowing elderly care. They can offer advice from a different angle that may be more acceptable to your parent.

In the end, it can take some time to convince your aging parent to be open to accepting help. Be patient and persistent. Try to understand how your parent is feeling and empathize, but don’t give up! Elderly care can make an enormous difference in the quality of their life and in their health.


If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Elderly Care Services in Scottsdale AZ, please contact the caring staff at Devoted Guardians today.

Affordable In-Home Care in the Phoenix Metro Area. Call Today: (480) 999-3012.

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