Millions of adult children and other family members are assuming caregiving roles for their aging relatives, according to the CDC. Unfortunately, not all older people will accept help, even if they desperately need it. This stubbornness leaves many well-intentioned family caregivers wondering what to do with an elderly parent who refuses help.
To get aging family members to accept help, it’s important to first understand why they refuse help in the first place.
First and foremost is the possibility that they’re anxious.
There are plenty of reasons why someone can become frightened—and subsequently act out—in old age, including:
Dealing with an older parent who refuses help can be incredibly frustrating. It’s important for adult children to remember that no matter how frustrated they are, their parents are probably just as distressed.
All in all, there are plenty of reasons why someone might refuse help in their old age, and understanding what is causing their distress is key to getting them to eventually accept help. For example, if an elderly parent is concerned about finances, exploring financial aid options together may help ease their worries. In turn, this may make them more receptive to the idea of hiring professional help, since they have assurance that they can afford to do so.
There are plenty of ways to ease aging parents into the idea of accepting help, including the following.
Determining what sort of help older relatives need will guide every other decision. Families should ask themselves the following questions of their aging relatives:
Caregiving is a full-time job; that’s why many families hire part-time or even full-time help for assisting elderly relatives. Increasingly popular hired eldercare professionals are geriatric care managers. They are a sort of specialized care advisor, often a registered nurse or social worker.
A geriatric care manager’s responsibilities can include:
Meeting an aging loved one with kindness can go a long way to diffusing tense situations. They may be belligerent anyways, but not matching their hostility may help prevent tensions from rising.
Some people are creatures of habit; those people may have a harder time adjusting to new social roles. For example, older parents may have issues accepting help from their adult children because of the role reversal. After all, the parents have spent many years assuming the caregiver roles. Having those roles reversed may require extra adjustment time. In these cases, being patient is the best course of action.
At the end of the day, older adults are still adults. So long as they are not putting themselves or others at risk, it’s important to let aging relatives make their own decisions.
Regularly checking in on aging relatives is important for two reasons.
It’s important for family caregivers to understand that they are human and that there is only so much they can do to help out elderly relatives. Part of accepting limitations and making this process easier is for caregivers to create boundaries.
For example, adult children may let their parents know that they will not pay for every expense, or they may refuse to let their parents move in with them. Establishing firm boundaries early on helps set expectations and reduces the odds of misunderstandings.
Support groups are great both for older adults and their caregivers.
Your loved one’s well-being and quality of life should always be your family’s number one priority. When an elderly parent can no longer take care of themselves and the help they need exceeds what home caregivers can provide, it’s time to ask some hard questions. One such question to ask yourself is if they need to move into a long-term care community.
Making the decision to move your relative into a senior living community is hard. Actually finding that community doesn’t have to be, though. Our directory is full of thousands of independent living, assisted living, memory care, and other senior living locations across the country. You can rest assured that you can find your aging relative a welcoming community near you, so they can receive the care they need with the dignity they deserve.