When Elderly Parents Refuse Help – How to Help them Anyway

Growing older is one of the most difficult things in life – for the individual who is growing older and for the loved ones of the individual; especially when it’s your parents.

What do you do when your notice your aging parents aren’t bathing as often as they should be, eating as much as they need to and aren’t able to attend to the regular, everyday tasks around the house?


Naturally, you offer to get them the help that they need. However, what happens when they refuse that help?

If your elderly parent is in need of assistance, but refuses help, you likely feel like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. You know that help is desperately needed, but you feel like you can’t force that help on your parent. How do you handle the situation?

The first thing you need to realize is why your elderly parent is refusing the help that is being offered. It is very difficult to accept the fact that you are no longer able to do the things that you were once perfectly capable of doing. Your parents may be feeling afraid, may be letting pride get in the way or they may simply not want to feel like they are being a burden on you.

Despite how your loved one is feeling, you know that help is needed. Here are some helpful suggestions that will allow you to provide your parent with the help that he or she needs while still respecting his or her feelings.

Converse: Start by expressing your concerns for your parent. Explain, in a calm and caring way, what you have noticed your parent is having difficulty with and why are concerned. Tell your mom or dad that you care a great deal and how much their health and well-being means to you.

Be Empathetic: Allow your parent to explain how he or she is feeling and be empathetic to those feelings. Realize and respect that the situation isn’t easy on your parent. Allow him or her to share his or her feelings with you and always remain cool, calm and collected.

Discuss Options: After you express your concerns, discuss the options that are available for help. Offer different options for help.

Before even having a conversation with your parents, research the different types of options that are available. For example, look into getting a home health aide or elderly care facilities. Talk to your parent’s doctors to discuss their condition and different types of help that would benefit them. Allow your parent to be involved in deciding what type of care they receive.


Slow and Steady: Accepting help is a change in lifestyle, and accepting a change in lifestyle can be difficult. Slowly and steadily introduce help.

For example, if a home health aide will be providing help, have the aide start by coming in once a week and as your parent gets used to the idea, invite the aide to come more often until her help is being offered on a regular basis.

Monitor the Situation: Regularly reassess the situation. Check in with your mother or father often to see how they are doing with the help that they are receiving. You may notice that more or less help is needed. You also want to check to see how your parent is adjusting to the help.
Modify as needed.

Growing older isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always done graciously. With these tips, you can make the process of providing help for your elderly parent as easy as possible.

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