How to Help Elderly Loved Ones Who Don’t Want Help

Trying to assist an elderly loved one who refuses help can be difficult and frustrating. But understanding why your loved one is resistant to care may help you to respond in a way that promotes acceptance and cooperation.

Why Elderly Loved Ones Refuse Care

Although it may be clear that your loved one needs assistance with one or more daily activities, he or she may resist or refuse your help. For the elderly who need care, accepting assistance may represent the following:

  • Relinquishing control. After being independent for their entire adult life, your loved one may feel they are giving up control and admitting that they must depend on others to do what they have always done for themselves.
  • An invasion of privacy. It is one thing to accept help in the kitchen, but it is another to have assistance in the bathroom. Having someone in the room while performing personal activities like bathing or toileting may make your loved one feel vulnerable, embarrassed, and helpless.
  • Weakness. Your loved one may feel that the family always depended on him or her for strength and leadership, but now they depend on the family for help. Accepting help may mean that they can no longer take care of their family.
  • An imposition on others. Your loved one may view accepting help or home care service as a burden to the family and feel guilty about imposing that burden.

How Can You Respond?

Your loved one’s feelings are normal. They fear that their life is going to change, so naturally they resist. But what if they simply deny that they need help? Here are some things to consider before you respond:

  • Be realistic about what assistance is needed. Make an assessment of what help is truly needed. Don’t insist on helping with activities your loved one can do for themselves.
  • Wait for the right time to suggest help. Wait until your loved one is calm and reasonable before suggesting help. They may be more inclined to listen and to be honest about the help they need.
  • Consider your loved one’s input. It may not be the service that your loved one opposes; it may be the type of service or the person or persons providing it. Ask your loved one if they have a preference for a specific kind of service or if they might accept assistance from another family member.
  • Enlist the help of others. Your loved one may be more inclined to admit that they need help if they hear it from other family members as well. Include someone else whom they trust.
  • See how it goes. If your loved one is hesitant to accept services, ask them to try it and see how it goes. Don’t make them feel that they have to make a final decision right away.
  • Be honest. Your resistant love one may be willing to compromise if you explain to your loved one that accepting home service will make things easier on you.

Helping a loved one who is resistant to help can be a challenge. Involving a home care provider to help your loved one understand his or her need for care can help your loved feel involved in the decision and more willing to accept the help they need.



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