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How to Talk to Elderly Parents About Accepting Help

Emotional Wellbeing | January 24, 2023

A caregiver talking to an elderly parent who refused help.

Taking care of your aging parents takes a lot of dedication, but there are times where you and your loved ones may not agree. There may be times where your mom or dad may need help, but aren’t willing to accept it. Let’s break down why elderly parents refuse help and what you can do to support them in these times.

Why Do Some Parents Resist Help?

Simply put, getting older can be a scary experience. Aging leads to a lot of notable changes for your loved ones, both physical and emotional. Talks about having to move out of their home or adjust certain habits aren’t always welcome because your parents are scared and confused about what will happen to their independence.

Getting older also leads to a major role reversal for your older parents. Your parents will always see you as their child. After decades of helping and caring for you, it can be quite jarring to be in the position of needing guidance and help from their now adult children. This change of identity can make your parents feel less essential or wanted, especially when they’re being told they aren’t capable of doing something for themselves.

While having a parent refuse help can be frustrating, it’s understandable from an emotional standpoint. The important part is that you understand why your loved ones may resist assistance and respond with both understanding and love.

How to Convince an Elderly Parent They Need Help

While it’s not surprising to see an elderly parent be stubborn, there are ways to help your loved ones open up about getting help. Keep the following strategies in mind to encourage your parent.

Stay positive and empathetic

A little empathy and positivity can go a long way toward convincing your parents to get the help they need. Make sure that your aging parents know that your requests are heartfelt and that you want them to be as happy and healthy as possible. That compassion can make it easier for your loved ones to accept the situation and make choices based on their quality of life.

Let them have control and autonomy

One of the biggest reasons that seniors refuse care or other forms of help is because they’re afraid of losing control. Make it clear that help is a limiting factor – in fact, it’s just a form of support so that they aren’t held back. Don’t be afraid to stress that your loved ones are still making all the decisions and that any help is meant to make their lives easier.

Provide options

People of all ages generally don’t like being forced into something. Try and give your loved ones plenty of options to give them more agency in these important decisions. For example, family members in need of senior care may need help in the future. Lay out different assisted living options so that your parents know they have a choice and feel like their input matters.

Collaborate with others

You may not be the only person who has to convince your elderly parents to get help. Family members and close friends can also assist you with these important endeavors. Hearing from multiple loved ones can eventually make stubborn moms and dads eventually relent and receive help.

Choose your battles

Sometimes it’s best to let certain things slide. People don’t like being nagged, even if you are genuinely trying to help them. Don’t try and fight too many battles at the same time. Pick out a couple of issues that are the most important and stick to those – you can always revisit the other issues later.

What to Do When Elderly Parents Refuse Help

Every so often, you might have a mom or dad who just refuses to budge. This level of resistance is discouraging, but it doesn’t mean you can’t keep trying. Try out the following strategies to try and make an important difference in your loved ones’ lives.

Start small

If your parents are being particularly difficult, sometimes it’s best to focus on smaller matters to start making a difference. Suggesting minor adjustments or offering less dramatic changes may make people more amenable to accepting help – especially if they don’t even recognize the changes as help with daily tasks and other challenges.

Reframe conversations around you and other loved ones

Sometimes the most effective way to get a stubborn parent to get help is to make it clear how much the issue impacts you, your children, or other loved ones. People may resist getting help if they think it’ll only affect them, but they’ll soften their stance if they realize their stubbornness can hurt the ones they love. Whether your aging parents don’t want to get a will, find a safer place to live, or anything else, it may be time to pivot the conversation around your needs.

Accept your own limits

Sometimes there’s only so much that you can do to convince someone stubbornly refuse help. It’s important to keep trying, but don’t beat yourself up if your attempts don’t work. Your loved ones position may change over time, so don’t stress yourself out too much. Make sure to take some mental health breaks or get some help. The occasional spa date or assistance from a family friend can go a long way toward supporting your own mental health and happiness.

Don’t be afraid to turn to professionals

Speaking of getting help, sometimes it’s best to work with the experts. Turn to professionals when your parents are being particularly stubborn – physicians, social workers, and other experts can help showcase just how important it is to get help. You can even turn to other community members. Developing this support system will not only lend voices to your cause, but also show your parents how much their health matters.

If your elderly parents need help finding the right senior living community, you can turn to National Church Residences. We take an individual approach to support seniors and help them live a healthier, more satisfying lifestyle. Find out which senior living options are in your area or give us a call at 844-465-6063 to talk to one of our friendly staff members today.

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