Help For Comprehending Aging Parents Who Turn Down Assistance

As your parents grow older you may face a situation where you, your siblings, and other relatives may begin to see changes in your parents that might warrant professional caregiving assistance. But what can you do when the parents you love and seek to care for reject the concept of receiving help? Navigating this situation can be challenging. It’s a delicate balance between respecting their autonomy and ensuring their safety and well-being. Rather than walking on eggshells or starting potentially volatile arguments, there are ways that you can work with your parents to help them understand and accept the assistance that will keep them safe, and secure, and increase their happiness and your peace of mind.


How Do You Help Parents Who Don’t Want Help?

Helping parents who don’t want help can be a delicate issue, often rooted in their desire for independence, fear of becoming a burden, or not recognizing their own needs. Here are strategies to assist them respectfully and effectively:

  • Understand Their Perspective

By acknowledging their feelings, and recognizing their desire for independence and control over their own lives. An empathetic approach makes it easier to approach them with sensitivity and understanding. It’s important to identify the specific reasons behind their refusal, whether it’s pride, fear, misunderstanding, or financial concerns. Try to address the root cause in a respectful and empathetic manner. This can make your parent more receptive to support.

  • Communicate Effectively

Select the right time and place for the conversation, quiet and comfortable, where the atmosphere promotes relaxed, uninterrupted dialogue. Speak from personal experience using “I” statements, such as “I feel worried when you…,” to keep the tone non-confrontational and prevent your parent from becoming defensive. Active listening demonstrates that you are engaged and taking their concerns seriously. Validate their feelings and make sure they feel heard and understood.

  • Introduce Help Gradually

Starting with small, non-intrusive forms of support can gently ease them into the concept of accepting assistance. For example, you might suggest hiring a cleaning service or setting up an online grocery delivery to take care of routine chores. By emphasizing the positives of such help—how it can preserve their independence by freeing up their time and energy to focus on enjoyable and comfortable activities—you can help them see the benefits in a new light.

  • Offer Choices

Offering choices is a respectful and empowering way to help. Presenting various options for receiving assistance, rather than prescribing a fixed path of action, allows a parent to maintain a sense of control over their life and decisions. Being willing to adjust and accommodate their preferences lets them steer the decision-making process. By offering choices and being adaptable, you acknowledge their autonomy and cater to their comfort level, creating a collaborative partnership in arranging the care they receive.

  • Involve Them in the Solution

Work together with your parent to research and select the appropriate forms of assistance, such as a home aide, professional services, or even technological aids that could enhance their daily lives. Through collaboration, you can define and agree upon the goals of the assistance, focusing on how it will improve their quality of life or ensure their safety. Joint planning and goal-setting fosters ownership and a sense of agency, making the solutions more personal and acceptable.

  • Leverage External Advice

Recommendations of professionals such as doctors, therapists, or care managers often hold more credibility than those from family members. Experts can provide assessments and guidance that are seen as more objective and knowledgeable. You may also find support in advice from your non-experts outside your family. Encouraging your loved ones to connect with friends or peers who have had positive experiences with receiving help can provide them with relatable success stories and reduce apprehension. The reassurance gained from these outside sources can be a powerful motivator in embracing assistance.

  • Take Care of Yourself

Working with a parent on care options can require a lot of physical and emotional energy. Sustain yourself through avenues such as support groups, where you can share experiences and gain insights from others in similar situations. Professional counseling can provide a private outlet for your emotions and strategies for coping, while respite care services can offer a much-needed break, ensuring you have time to recharge.


What to Do When Siblings Refuse to Help Elderly Parents?

When siblings refuse to help with elderly parents, it can create a challenging and often emotionally charged situation. Navigating these dynamics requires patience, communication, and sometimes creative problem-solving.

  • Open a Dialogue

Start by having an honest conversation with your siblings about the situation. Express your concerns and the need for help in a non-confrontational way. It’s possible they may not fully understand the extent of your parents’ needs or how the responsibility is affecting you.

  • Clarify Expectations and Abilities

Everyone has different capacities and limitations. Discuss each sibling’s ability to contribute, whether it’s financial support, hands-on care, or managing specific tasks like grocery shopping or transportation. It’s important to set realistic expectations based on each person’s circumstances.

  • Seek to Understand Their Hesitations

There could be various reasons why a sibling might refuse to help, such as denial about the parents’ condition, personal issues, past conflicts, or feeling unqualified. Understanding these reasons can help in finding a compromise or addressing the underlying issues.

  • Divide Responsibilities

Assign tasks based on each sibling’s strengths and situation. For example, a sibling who lives far away might handle online bill payments or medical appointments, while a local sibling might take on direct care or household chores.

  • Professional Advice

In cases where conflict cannot be resolved through direct communication, it might be beneficial to seek the help of a mediator or engage in family counseling. A neutral third party can facilitate discussions and help everyone reach a mutually agreeable solution.

  • Seek Support from Others

Look beyond your immediate family for support. Friends, community resources, faith groups, and support groups for caregivers can offer practical assistance and emotional support.

  • Set Boundaries

It’s important to recognize your limits. You can only do so much, and it’s okay to set boundaries for yourself to prevent burnout. Communicating these boundaries clearly to your siblings can help manage expectations.

  • Focus on Your Parents’ Needs

Ultimately, the priority is the well-being of your parents. Keeping the focus on what is best for them can help steer conversations and decisions in a constructive direction.


SmithLife Homecare Can Help

SmithLife Homecare offers a comprehensive range of in-home care services to meet the unique needs of seniors. Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for seniors by providing personalized and compassionate care, allowing them to maintain their independence in the comfort of their own homes. Services range from personal care and health support, including assistance with daily personal tasks, to specialized dementia care with certified dementia practitioners on staff. We’re distinguished by our commitment to quality, compassion, and flexibility, aiming to meet the individual needs of each client. Our caregivers undergo ongoing training and professional development in areas such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, dementia care, hospice care, and more, ensuring the highest standard of care. Contact us today to learn more.


Agency Director for SmithLife Homecare in Rockville, MD

About the Author-

Le’Aira Gonzalez, the Agency Director of SmithLife Homecare, has dedicated over 21 years to serving seniors, underscored by her comprehensive background in Psychology, Human Resources, Public Health, Community Outreach Research, and Project Management. A Certified Dementia Practitioner and licensed Assisted Living Manager, she has risen from caregiver to director, displaying profound compassion and leadership that promotes inclusivity and top-tier care. Beyond her professional achievements, Le’Aira is a fervent advocate for eldercare, committed to raising awareness and impacting lives through community outreach.

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