What Do You Do When Elderly Parent Refuses Needed Care?

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Have you noticed Mom or Dad falling frequently? Or have you discovered their mind isn’t as sharp as it once was? Have you responded to these changes by offering additional support or part-time in-home care? If this sounds like something you or a family member has experienced with your elderly parents, you’re not alone.

Supporting your aging parents can be challenging, especially for parents who refuse help. Many parents refuse to care for several reasons, but can you blame them? Your parents have lived a full and independent life, not to mention they raised you. So imagine how difficult it must be to surrender daily tasks to a caregiver and accept the body’s aging process. It is never easy.

So, what do you do when an elderly parent refuses needed care?

If you’ve been in this situation with Mom or Dad, rest assured. We’ve broken down why they refuse care and what you can do to help when your elderly parent refuses needed care.

Caregiver with family

3 Major Signs That Your Parent Needs Care

You cannot force care on an independent person capable of making their own decisions. You want to intervene and help them. But what if your aging parent struggles physically or injures themselves more often than not? How do you know when to bring in in-home care or additional support?

Below are three significant signs your parent might need care.

  1. Your Parent’s Safety Is At Risk

    Safety is a huge factor in determining whether your aging parents need care. For example, suppose your elderly parents are injuring themselves frequently, forgetting to take proper medications, improperly using their drugs, falling, skipping meals, or failing to maintain the safety of their home. In that case, it may be time for home care.

  2. Depression or Loss of Interest

    When was the last time you noticed your elderly parent doing something they loved? Loss of interest in hobbies and activities, isolation, and loneliness are among the factors that contribute to depression. If you notice your loved one is experiencing a deteriorating mental health or cognitive decline, it may be a sign they require additional support.

  3. Self-Neglect

    Sometimes, the lack of personal or even home hygiene can signify that your aging parents may need care. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you notice a parent neglecting themselves:

    •  Do they have foul body odor more often than not?
    • Have they stopped bathing or showering because it is more difficult?
    • Has their mobility decreased, and are they not moving around or walking frequently?
    • Do they leave the house during the day?
    • Have they left the housekeeping on the back burner?
    • Are they eating much less than before?
    • Have they stopped caring about grooming themselves?
    • Do they wear appropriate clothing for the weather?

    All these questions can help you determine whether or not your elderly parents have neglected themselves. If these factors are prominent in your aging parents, it might be time for home care or even assisted living accommodations.

If you notice one or more than one of these three significant signs in your elderly parents, it might be time to get the support they need.

For more information, visit our blog post “Do My Aging Parents Need Help?“.

Worried elderly woman

Why Your Elderly Parents Refuses Help

Aging parents refuse care for several reasons. Generally speaking, getting older is scary. There can be a lot of fear associated with the aging process. Many of us go to great lengths to stay young by altering our appearance, remaining physically active, dieting, and so on.

Aging, however, is inevitable.

There are many reasons our elderly parents fear getting older. Many fear that they will lose autonomy, lose loved ones, be unable to support themselves financially, lose their independence, and become a burden to family members or friends.

According to the National Library of Medicine, “aging is a process related to but distinct from each individual’s concept of the physical self, social self, personal identity, personal experience, attitude towards aging, and age stereotypes.” Especially in North America, our identity is interlaced with our independence.

When an adult child “threatens” the aging parent’s independence by suggesting a caregiver, their identity is compromised too. As a result, elderly parents may feel several emotions: anger, misunderstanding, threats, frustration, fear, helplessness, grief, dread, and powerlessness. It’s all related.

Understanding why elderly parents refuse help is essential to ensuring longevity and happiness. Communicate with kindness, empathy, and love when approaching your aging parent.

Caregiver with clients at the beach

What to Do When Elderly Parents Refuse Help

You’ve already tried to communicate with your parents about their health and ongoing care, but no matter what, your elderly parent refuses help.

It is never easy to communicate with your loved ones if there is resistance. That is why we’ve listed five creative ways to encourage your parents to receive the care they need.

  1. Approach Them With Empathy

    It goes without saying that approaching any problematic situation with empathy will always get you ahead. But how can you incorporate empathy into your communication method with your parents?

    Put yourself in their shoes; as mentioned above, aging is scary for most people. If you can understand why your parents are resisting care, it will help you communicate with greater empathy.

    Be there for your parent by being present and engaged with body language and verbal cues. Some examples of empathetic nonverbals include head nodding, physical touch (e.g., hand holding) to show understanding, and communicating with a warm and relaxed tone. Another great way to approach your parents with empathy is by actively listening to their constant concerns, worries, and reasons for refusing care.

  2. Treat Your Aging Parents Like Adults

    You might want to encourage your parents to accept care, but they feel you treat them like children when you communicate. It isn’t uncommon. Many adult children assume the “parent” role when acting as the primary caregiver or expressing their concerns with their parents.

    Avoid this power dynamic by engaging in a two-way conversation, give and receive. Try to avoid pushing your parents or nagging them, and avoid ultimatums altogether. Instead, empower your parents by involving them in the decision-making process. Thus, you will validate their feelings, and your parents will accept the care they need.

  3. Offer Solutions

    If you force your parents into a corner, they will refuse anything in front of them. On the other hand, if you approach them calmly and lovingly, they will be more likely to listen to what you have to say.

    Don’t just offer them one option; give them various solutions so they can move forward knowing they were part of the decision-making process. Rather than telling them point blank what to do, commit to doing research and break down the pros and cons of each solution. The goal here is to cultivate a mutual understanding and instill cooperation.

  4. Start Small

    Change is always challenging, especially when you get older. Don’t shock your parents with a life-altering solution. Go in slowly, and start with the small changes. Start small by offering additional help around the house with errands, light housekeeping, and companionship. You can also suggest senior community programs to ease into the changes slowly. An assisted living facility might be your last resort.

  5. Ask an Expert

    If you’re still struggling to communicate effectively with your aging parents, it might be time to ask an expert for advice.

    It is undeniable that some seniors will only listen to a professional when it comes to their health and well-being. In that case, talk to your family doctor or a caregiving specialist. An expert can help explain the types of care, therapies, programs, and benefits.

    Please speak to one of our expert Care Specialists today. Give us a call for a FREE Caring Consult. One of our Care Designers can meet with you virtually or in the comfort of your home to discuss your care needs and address concerns.

Nurse Next Door Caregiver with clients

Your Aging Parents Still Won’t Budge, Need Additional Help?

If you’re at wits-end and your loved one refuses care, you may have to accept their choice and remain there for them no matter what. As frustrating as it is, they are adults and can make their own choices – even poor ones.

Rather than fighting with your parents, offer them help and support whenever you can. Don’t give up. It may take them some time to come around to the idea. Let them mull it over and process it in their own time. Be patient and approach them later on when the time seems right. Hopefully, your parents will come around. In the meantime, spend as much quality time with your aging parents and offer them ongoing companionship, love, and support.


Get Started with Nurse Next Door and visit our senior home care services here

or call 1-877-588-8609 today!


What People Are Saying About Nurse Next Door:

“I love that they take a holistic approach with clients. The excellent customer service and quality care makes this company a cut above the rest!” – Chaunika

“Very caring & responsive to needs of my elderly relative.” – Lenore


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