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What to Do When Aging Parents Refuse Help

adult talking to his senior parents about moving into assisted living

As adults, we have a permanent, vivid memory of our parents as young, active, multitasking individuals who could do it all. Then, seemingly in the blink of an eye, there’s this realization that they’re aging. You may even notice they’re falling behind with certain daily tasks and responsibilities. 

The necessity to help your aging parents may be sparked after noticing they’re more forgetful, a decline in their personal hygiene, missed doctor appointments, bills going unpaid, a lack of proper nutrition, or a struggle to manage their prescription medications.

Your first inclination is probably to offer help. Perhaps you’ve offered help before and it was met with an emphatic, “No! I’ve got it.” Or, maybe you’ve even mentioned hiring help or a move to a care community and you got an immediate, flat refusal as a reply. 

Even after realizing your mom and/or dad need assistance on some level, are your aging parents refusing help? 

Certainly, if your parents are competent and able to make decisions on their own, you can’t force them in one direction or another. But, when it’s obvious that your mom or dad need some assistance, there are strategies you can use to help them reconsider.

Keep reading to learn why aging parents refuse help in the first place and what you can do when they  refuse the help they need.

Why Do Aging Parents Resist Help?

For many individuals, aging is scary. As your parents age, they’re undoubtedly experiencing their own thoughts, emotions and fears — all of which could be driving their outward stubbornness or refusals. 

After living independently their whole adult life and being in charge of their own decision-making, it’s probably uncomfortable for your parents to acknowledge or admit they need assistance with their daily life. Indeed, most aging parents resist help because they sense their independence and control over their own life being threatened from things like physical impairment, cognitive decline, or their children suggesting they move to a care community. 

Aside from the desire to maintain their independence, your parents may also be struggling with the idea of letting their children manage their personal affairs.

Without question, all you want is to know your parents are safe and healthy, especially when you can’t be there. So, start here: Understand the reasons why your aging parent(s) refuses help. This is vital before approaching an initial or another conversation about getting them the help they need.

What to Do When Aging Parents Refuse Help

Finding ways to talk with your aging parent about needing help can be a big challenge, but the conversation should always start and end with empathy and respect — even if you feel frustrated and worried along the way.

Here are some things you can do if your parent refuses to discuss care community options.

  • Remain Empathetic and Listen to Their Concerns

Your parents may resist the thought of an  assisted living option because they equate advancing age with a variety of undesirable traits, such as forgetfulness, dependence on others, confusion and a lack of personal productivity. You can show your parent that you really care about why they’re resisting by listening to them with compassion and working to build trust regarding the topic.

  • Stay Positive and Optimistic Throughout the Process

If you’re uneasy about approaching your aging parent to discuss care community options, it’s important to stay calm and sensible throughout the process. Try coming at the subject with a high level of optimism and positivity, focusing on how you’d like to help them stay as healthy as possible while maintaining their independence. It’s also essential to acknowledge their values and preferences throughout the conversation, reiterating that the goal is to find a way for them to continue living a purposeful life.

  • Approach Them with Respect

The conversation will stall out if your parent feels their opinion isn’t being considered and respected. By regarding their perspective and validating their opinion, you have a much better chance of being heard. Remember to listen thoughtfully to what they’re telling you, because you’re still the child in their eyes. After all, the most important thing is to be supportive of your parent’s wishes and to help them find a living situation that keeps them safe and happy.

  • Give Them Back Control of the Conversation  

No parent wants to feel incapable of managing their own life or be told how to live. Knowing this fact, you can empower them by asking how they see the situation and how they would recommend solving the problem. Be sure to ask them about their preferences with regard to care community options, and give them multiple choices to reinforce the fact that they’re in control of their future. By including them in the process, they can feel validated and appreciated, increasing the potential for a positive conversation.

Are Your Aging Parents Still Refusing Help? Stay Patient and Positive

Even after a thorough and seemingly productive conversation, your parents could still refuse help. In an ideal world, they would accept your help with no resistance or arguments. 

It’s important to remain patient while your parent processes the necessity of potential life adjustments. A change of heart or acceptance this significant isn’t going to happen overnight, so give them space to think and listen closely to what they have to say.

Understanding their concerns will help you find the best solution together.  

Oaks Senior Living: We’re Here to Help You Start the Process and Know What to Expect

Senior living can be a great option for older adults and their loved ones, but it can be an overwhelming process when exploring care community options. 

To help you further navigate the conversation, see our Tips for Talking with Mom and Dad, or contact us today to schedule a tour and see how our care communities are a great fit.

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