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What to Do When an Aging Parent Won't Accept Help

A common challenge family caregivers face is finding ways to assist a senior loved one who denies they need help. It can be frustrating and frightening all at once. If you find yourself in this situation, know you aren’t alone. A study by researchers at Penn State University revealed that nearly 80 percent of adult children who are caregivers say their parents are “stubborn.”

Family caregivers often struggle to convince a parent to stop driving, to see the doctor, or to consider moving to a safer environment. Whatever the challenge, it can lead to friction between family members.

There are steps you can take to try to defuse an older family member’s resistance and keep them safe.

Productive Ways to Communicate with a Senior Loved One

  • Ask open-ended questions: First, get to the root of what is keeping your loved one from doing something that seems in their best interest. Are they worried about taking a new medication because they’ve seen a commercial highlighting potential side effects? Are they resistant to selling their home and moving because they raised a family there? Even if a senior feels unsafe in their home, the emotional attachment to it can keep them from making a change. By asking open-ended questions and giving the older adult time to fully explain their feelings and fears, you will gain a better understanding of the barriers they are putting up.
  • Show empathy: A senior might resist your advice because they fear losing their independence and identity. An older adult who has overcome adversity in the past may think they will be fine working things out on their own. Try to empathize with your parent’s situation. It may help if you explain that making a few changes or accepting a little help now will allow them to maintain their independence longer.
  • Enlist trusted advisors: If you are worried a love one’s unwillingness to accept help may be putting their safety at risk, enlist the help of a trusted advisor. Think about professionals your family member trusts and speak with them privately. It could be the senior’s pastor, rabbi, or primary care physician. They may be able to offer an unbiased perspective.
  • Take small steps forward: Unless you feel your loved one is in immediate danger, try to find some middle ground. While you might think they need to move to a condo or senior living community immediately, compromise. Ask them if they will at least attend a community event at a local assisted living or go for a tour and lunch. Reinforce that it won’t obligate them to anything.

Finally, remember timing is everything when it comes to persuading a loved one to make a change. Whenever possible, wait to tackle difficult conversations until you can talk face-to-face in a relaxed atmosphere.

Start slowly and accept that you can only do so much. If the senior ultimately refuses to take help, you may have no other choice than to accept their decision for now.

Visit a Sunrise Community Near You

At Sunrise Senior Living communities, we regularly host community events that are open to the public. It can give you an easy way to introduce your loved one to all the benefits offered by senior living communities.

From life enrichment activities and wellness programs to a choice of well-balanced meals, we invite you to visit a Sunrise community near you.

Call us at 888-434-4648 to schedule a time!

Article By: Sunrise Senior Living

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