What to do if your elderly parent refuses help

Written by Ranger Home Care
26 January 2024

As our parents age, it’s natural to worry about their well-being. However, what happens when your elderly parents refuse help – especially when they clearly need it?

It’s a delicate situation that many adults face with their elderly parents.

You may feel the time has come for extra help but this challenge often brings a mix of emotions, from concern and frustration to a deep sense of responsibility.

Additionally, this situation can create a tricky balance. Parents might feel vulnerable or embarrassed about needing help, while their adult children endeavour to respect their independence but also want to keep them safe.

Read on for some advice on what you can do if you’re worried about your elderly parent refusing help.

1. Understanding their resistance

Understanding what to do if your aging parents refuse help is the first step. They might be afraid of losing their independence, be in denial about their capabilities or feel like accepting help is a sign of weakness.

For example, a parent who used to be very active might find it extremely difficult to admit they’re slowing down and struggling.

It’s essential to approach the topic with empathy and understanding – ensuring that you respect their feelings and perspectives. This approach can create an easier environment for open conversations about care options.

By responding in this way you’re showing them that you’re not just imposing help, but genuinely trying to understand their viewpoint and needs.

2. Effective communication

The way you communicate your concerns can make a significant difference. Begin by listening. Ask your parent about their feelings and concerns. It’s important to have these conversations in a non-confrontational manner.

Use “I” statements, like “I feel worried when I see you struggling with…” This focuses the conversation on your feelings and concerns, rather than making them feel accused or incapable.

3. Offer choices, not ultimatums

It’s important to be sensitive to the fact that no one, especially elderly parents, likes feeling as though they’re losing control over their lives. When discussing the idea of help or care, it’s better to present it as a set of options rather than as direct demands.

For example, instead of saying, “You need a carer,” you could gently ask, “Would you like some help with household chores, or would it be more useful to have someone help with grocery shopping?”

This method of offering choices allows your parent to feel in control and respected. It acknowledges their right to make decisions about their own lives.

4. Gradually introducing help

Sometimes, a gradual introduction to having help can be more effective. You might start with a less intrusive form, like a cleaning service, before progressing to more personal care.

This approach helps your parent slowly get comfortable with the idea of receiving help and lets them directly see how it improves their life, making the transition smoother and more acceptable for them.

5. Enlist professional advice

In some situations, a doctor or a professional’s advice might be more effective. If your parent trusts their GP, setting up a talk where the doctor explains the advantages of extra help could work well.

A doctor’s viewpoint might be more convincing and can be specifically based on your parent’s health needs, making the idea of getting help seem more important and relevant.

6. Involve other family members

Involving other family members, like siblings, can provide a united front and diverse perspectives. Having a family meeting where everyone expresses their concerns and ideas can be effective.

It’s important that these discussions don’t feel like an intervention but rather a family coming together to support a loved one. Family members will relate in different ways to an elderly parent, and one may be more effective than the other in conveying the message.

It also helps to distribute the responsibility and stress among family members, rather than it all falling on one person.

7. Explore community resources

Another thing to do when elderly parents refuse help is to find out what support is out there. Many communities offer resources for older people that can be less intimidating than in-home care.

These might include elderly day care, meal delivery services or transportation help. Introducing these resources can be a good middle ground, offering help while still maintaining a sense of independence.

These community services also provide opportunities for social interaction and activities, which can enhance your parent’s overall well-being.

8. Focus on safety and well-being

When elderly parents refuse to move, it’s always important to base discussions around safety and well-being. Let your parent know your worries come from a place of love. Emphasise that accepting help is to improve their quality of life and ensures their safety and health.

This not only shows your love but also helps them realise that accepting aid is a positive and necessary step. Stress that their happiness and comfort are your main concerns, and receiving assistance can actually boost their independence.

9. Seek support for yourself

Handling a situation when an elderly parent refuses help can be really stressful and emotionally draining. When you come to the difficult decision that your loved one needs further help, it’s vital for your own well-being to find support, as well as supporting your family member.

This could be talking to friends who understand, joining support groups where you can share your experiences or even seeking professional advice.

It’s important to remember that you’re not the only one going through this, and there are methods and resources that can help you cope.

Finding quality live-in home care

At Ranger Home Care, we recognise that every individual has unique needs, which is why we offer customised care plans tailored to meet the specific requirements of your loved one. Our team comprises dedicated and caring professionals, committed to delivering the highest standard of care.

We provide continuous, 24-hour support through our live-in care services, ensuring that your parent is always in safe and capable hands.

If you’re facing challenges when your elderly parent refuses help, let our compassionate and skilled team guide you through this journey and show the benefits of live-in care.

We can ease any concerns by outlining what a live-in carer does and answer any questions you or your loved one may have.

For more information on how Ranger Home Care can support you and your loved one, please visit our website or contact us directly on 01252-850-040.

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