Coping with Elderly Parents Who Refuse HelpSkip to content

Dealing with Parents Who Refuse Help

Published: Dec 30, 2022. Last Updated: Jan 8, 2023.

Caring for elderly parents can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it can also be challenging, especially when they refuse to accept help. It can be difficult to balance the desire to provide support and assistance with the need to respect their autonomy and independence.

So what do you have to do when your elderly parent refuse your help? In this article, we will explore how to deal with elderly parents who refuse to be helped, including understanding their perspective, respecting their autonomy and independence, communicating openly and honestly, seeking outside help, and taking care of yourself. By following these tips, you can support your elderly parents while also respecting their wishes and maintaining a healthy relationship.

Understand their perspective

As we age, it's natural to want to maintain our independence and autonomy. For many elderly parents, accepting help can feel like a loss of control or a sign of weakness especially if they have always been fiercely independent and have taken pride in taking care of themselves and their families.

But getting older brings drastic changes to one’s physical health so it's often necessary to accept some level of assistance in order to continue living safely and comfortably. This can be a difficult and emotionally charged process, both for the elderly parent and for the family members who are trying to provide support.So, how can you effectively deal with an elderly parent who refuses to be helped?

First and foremost, it's important to try to understand their perspective and the emotions that may be driving their refusal. This means actively listening to their concerns and taking the time to really understand where they are coming from.

For example, they may be afraid of losing their independence and becoming a burden on their family. They may also feel that accepting help is a sign of failure or that they are not capable of taking care of themselves. By acknowledging these emotions and validating their concerns, you can help your elderly parent feel heard and understood.

Remember, your parent is still an adult with their own wants, needs, and feelings. They have the right to make their own decisions, even if you disagree with them. Respect their autonomy and independence as much as possible, and try to find ways to support them that allow them to maintain as much control over their own lives as possible.

Respect their autonomy and independence

It’s natural for us to want to help and support our aging parents as much as possible. We may want to take on tasks and responsibilities that they can no longer handle on their own, or we may want to make decisions on their behalf in order to protect their well-being. However, it's important to remember that they are still autonomous individuals with their own wants, needs, and desires. It's crucial to respect their autonomy and independence, even as they age.

Allowing elderly loved ones to make their own decisions and do things for themselves as much as possible not only empowers them and helps them maintain their sense of control and independence, but it also helps to preserve their dignity. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our elderly loved ones are no longer capable of handling certain tasks or making their own decisions, but this is not always the case. Many elderly individuals are perfectly capable of making their own decisions and handling tasks on their own, and it's important to give them the opportunity to do so.

Of course, there may be times when our elderly loved ones are no longer able to handle certain tasks or make certain decisions on their own. In these cases, it's important to approach the situation with sensitivity and to involve them in the decision-making process as much as possible. This could mean discussing options and asking for their input, or it could mean giving them the opportunity to make the final decision.

Communicate openly and honestly

Effective communication is crucial in any relationship, and this is especially true when it comes to dealing with elderly parents who refuse to be helped. Whether you are trying to help your parents with day-to-day tasks, manage their healthcare, or simply offer emotional support, open and honest communication is essential.

Understand that many seniors may feel that they have lost control over their lives and that accepting help is a sign of weakness or dependence. It's important to be sensitive to these feelings and to try to address any concerns they may have about accepting help. To do this, it's essential to listen actively and to show empathy. Really pay attention to what your parents are saying. Acknowledge their feelings, and try to put yourself in their shoes. It may be helpful to ask open-ended questions to encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings.

It's also important to be open and be honest about your own feelings and concerns. This means expressing your worries and fears in a way that is respectful and non-confrontational. For example, instead of saying "You can't live alone anymore, you need help," you might say "I'm worried about your safety living alone. Can we talk about some options for getting some help?" Regular, open conversations are also important when it comes to dealing with elderly parents who refuse to be helped. It may be helpful to schedule regular check-ins or to simply set aside time to talk about your parents' needs and how you can support them. This can help to build trust and strengthen your relationship.

Ultimately, it’s all about finding a balance between respecting your parents' autonomy and independence and ensuring that they have the support they need. By being open, honest, and empathetic, you can improve your relationship with your elderly parents and help them to feel more comfortable accepting the help they need.

Seek external help

As much as we may want to care for our elderly parents ourselves, it's not always possible to do so. Sometimes, our own schedules, responsibilities, and limitations may prevent us from providing the level of support that our parents need. Other times, our parents may refuse to accept help, making it difficult for us to provide assistance. In these situations, seeking outside help can be a valuable option. Here are some options you may consider:

Professional caregivers/ Home health aides

They can provide a range of services to help your elderly parents with their daily needs. These may include personal care (such as bathing, dressing, and grooming), medication management, and help with household tasks (such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry). Caregivers can be a great resource if you are unable to provide these services yourself, or if you simply need some extra support.

Support groups

These groups provide a space for caregivers to connect with others who are in similar situations, share their experiences, and receive emotional support. Support groups can be found through local organizations, hospitals, and online communities.

Community resources

These can also be a valuable source of support for caregivers. These may include programs and services that provide transportation, meals, and other assistance to elderly individuals. Many communities also have adult day care centers or respite care programs, which can provide temporary relief for caregivers.

Seeking outside help can be a difficult decision, but it's important to remember that you don't have to do it all alone. By reaching out for support, you can ensure that your elderly parents receive the care and assistance they need, while also taking care of yourself.

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About the Author

JM Guiang

Writer & Researcher

Elder Guide LLC

Inspired by fresh ideas and wise words, JM Guiang, Communications degree-holder, and Elder Guide writer, finds profound joy in writing quality content and insightful articles that redefine seniors' perspective on aging with grace and confidence.