Dealing With Elderly Parents Who Refuse Help: 5 Useful Tips

Parents Who Refuse Help

We all know the challenges that little toddlers pose when it comes to getting even the most basic of daily tasks done. The average parent could write volumes about arguments and  negotiations that can take place on any given day and now Parents Who Refuse Help are more. 

It is therefore an almost comical reversal of roles that takes place in the latter stages of life when the children, now adults, have to power through similar difficulties with their aged parents. Many will agree that there are few things in life as challenging to deal with as an aging parent who, more often than not, has second thoughts when it comes to accepting help. 

Elderly People Refuse Help

If you are in such a situation, not all is lost. There are a few things that might help you turn this into a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Why Do Some Elderly Parents Refuse Help?

The first and possibly most important step is to exercise a bit of empathy. Understanding how your loved one is feeling and the pressures they are going through when an elderly parent refuses help is crucial to getting them the assistance they need. 

For many people, aging is a stressful prospect. So when the time comes there is usually a stubborn refusal to accept the status quo. It is almost as if, by accepting help, they are conceding defeat, and implicitly acknowledging their frailty and the fact that the inevitable loss of vitality is upon them.

Another reason is usually that by the time people reach a certain age, they will have grown accustomed to a particular way of living. Moving from a home they have lived in for decades, into a care facility might seem like a hard concept to grasp. They will therefore rebel against what they see as an attempt to disrupt a perfectly comfortable lifestyle. 

They might also tend to overestimate their ability to take care of themselves, having done it on their own for so long. The prospect of assistance, especially with simple things, can be quite jarring.

5 Tips on What to Do When Elderly Parents Refuse Help

Fortunately, you don’t have to feel completely helpless in the face of such a problem. There are quite a few options available to help you resolve the issue.

Tip 1: Discuss Their Feelings

Sometimes people just want to be heard. Elderly parents are no different. Just giving them an opportunity to express themselves can go a long way to making them more open to your suggestions.

The feeling is typically that as people grow older, they become more and more like children. So it is not uncommon to see people dictating to their parents, rather than giving them the opportunity to make their own life choices. 

By giving them a chance to have their voice heard, it demonstrates your respect for them, and gives them back a bit more of the autonomy that grows ever more scarce with age. This could mean more to them than you would think, and make them more accepting of your requests.

Tip 2: Get Professional Elder Care Support 

Thankfully, there are trained professionals who help thousands of families with getting the right senior care for their loved ones. You would be well advised to make use of the expertise of trained care specialists. Your familiarity with your parents might dull your arguments – valid as they may be – and make them less likely to cooperate with you. Bringing a more authoritative voice into the discussion might get them to pay closer attention and take the advice more seriously. If nothing else, it lends more credibility to the options you put on the table.

Tip 3: Plan Ahead and Discuss Future Plans

As people age, they tend to think less about the future and more about the here and now. So it often happens that they get stuck in a rut. Including them in discussions about future plans might give them something to look forward to, and also give them the motivation to prepare and be in the best condition possible for it. 

This could be a celebration for one of their grandchildren for instance, or some family anniversary that they would not want to miss. By constantly talking about it and keeping it front and center in their minds, you might succeed in getting them to buy into accepting help in order to achieve your shared cause. You could also successfully get them to give less importance to the care discussions and thus make it easier to negotiate on them.

Tip 4: Emphasize The Positives

While your goal is to solve a problem, this might not be the best way to present your solution to the person who is directly affected by it. It is important to fight the natural urge to show your parents the issue you are addressing. This casts the proposed solution in a negative light. They will therefore be less enthusiastic about cooperating. 

For example, a caregiver does not necessarily have to be someone to help them with simple daily activities. There are many benefits of socialization for seniors that you could use to get your parents to be more agreeable to the suggestion. The caregiver could be someone to talk to, play games with, or share advice with. Your loved one may be struggling with feelings of loneliness, so giving them an opportunity to bond with someone might sell the idea much better. 

Tip 5: Start Small

You also don’t want to introduce drastic changes all at once. Dramatic upheaval is almost guaranteed to provoke a negative reaction. For example, a caregiver might start out by just coming in a few times a week to assist with very specific chores. Over time, your parents may take to this person and with this trust, will be more willing to accept more help from them without feeling like it is an invasion of privacy. You could also get them a medical alert system to help them stay independent a little while longer while also being connected to help in case of emergencies. 


Getting an elderly person to accept care can be quite a challenge. However, just by meeting them where they are, and exercising empathy in how you propose the help, and how it is administered, could make all the difference when assisting elderly parents who refuse help. Make sure you respect their opinion, give them a say in how their affairs are decided, and help them stay in a positive frame of mind about your suggested interventions. And as you make the changes, you want to break them into it gradually to avoid distressing and frustrating them.


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