How to effectively intervene if the parent refuses help?

10 months ago

When a parent refuses help

It can be hard when a parent refuses help. Caring for elderly parents can be even more challenging when they adamantly refuse help from anyone else. Despite their difficulties in managing daily chores independently, some aging parents may resist accepting assistance due to a desire to maintain their autonomy or fear of burdening others. This refusal can lead to additional stress and frustration for adult children juggling their education or professional responsibilities alongside caregiving duties. Moreover, if the parent faces health issues like dementia, the caregiving responsibilities can become even more overwhelming. Balancing their own lives while ensuring the well-being of their parents becomes a delicate and emotionally taxing task. The struggle to provide care, support, and love while respecting their parent’s wishes requires patience, open communication, and a compassionate understanding of their feelings and fears.

Why do aging parents refuse help?

One of adult children’s most difficult tasks is witnessing their parents suffer from physical and mental decline. The usual reaction in such situations is to help parents with their tasks or appoint a caregiver to care for their needs. However, this is not as easy as it sounds because aging parents often refuse help and are not ready to allow anyone else to care for their needs. The resultant reaction is a conflict between aging parents and their adult children, adding to the emotional strain of the situation.

It is necessary to understand as well as acknowledge the reasons why aging parents refuse help. Understanding the causes will help you handle this difficult conversation with respect and empathy. Below is a list that defines the reasons why parents refuse home care:

Desire for Independence:

Aging parents may resist help because they value independence and fear losing control over their lives.

Fear of Burdening Others:

Parents might not want to be a burden on their children or worry that accepting help will make them feel dependent.

Denial of Decline:

Some parents may be in denial about their declining health and believe they can manage independently, even if it is unsafe.

Distrust or Past Negative Experiences:

Previous negative experiences with caregivers or a lack of trust in outsiders might lead parents to resist accepting help.

Emotional Attachment to Their Home:

Many aging parents are emotionally attached to their homes and may be unwilling to move or have someone else care for them.

Cultural or Generational Norms:

Cultural or generational norms may affect the parent’s refusal of help, as some cultures emphasize self-sufficiency and family care.

Fear of Change:

Change can be unsettling, especially in old age, leading to resistance to accepting assistance.

Understanding these reasons can help adult children approach the situation with sensitivity, patience, and an open mind, fostering a more productive and compassionate conversation with their aging parents.

How do I tell my parents that it’s time they need help?

Caring for aging parents and providing support in every possible was never easy for adult children. Moreover, watching combined with communication issues makes matters extremely difficult for them. According to a research study done at Penn State University, about 77% of adult children believe that their parents are stubborn when it comes to taking their advice for getting help for their daily chores. Telling your aging parents that it’s time they need help can be difficult. Therefore, below is a list of tips to help when a parent refuses help.

Take care of the timing:

When discussing a sensitive topic with your aging parent, timing is crucial. Inform your parents that you wish to discuss something vital with them. This would help them focus and concentrate on what you are trying to put forth. Never make the mistake of bringing up the topic in a moment of frustration or a family gathering. Such a step can trigger anger and bring resentment and anxiety to your parents.

The best time to start a conversation:

It is when you and your parents are in a good mood and at peace. Always speak one–on–one. This will allow you to explain your part much better, and you can expect a positive reaction from your parents.


It is an essential element in every conversation, which is expected and needs to be accepted by you. Never expect that your parents would give you a positive response when you talk about hiring help for their daily needs. Their first reaction is resistance, which you need to be prepared for. Your parents would say that they are coping fine till now, and what makes you comprehend that they would require additional help for their daily activities, and many questions would arise. In such situations, staying calm and listening to what they say is always advised. Put forth your views and tell them what makes you worried about them. Tell them that since they are alone the entire day, it keeps you concerned about their well-being and safety.

Give them time:

If you were not lucky in convincing your parents the first time, then allow the conversation to sink in for a few days before you again decide to bring out the topic.

Give them good examples:

If you see that your parents are resisting a bit too much, then trying to explain them in different ways would be helpful. For example, you can show some advertisements of home care agencies that provide in-home care services and how they can help them in times of need. You can explain to your parents that getting help initially for accidents is better and regret them later.

Making life easier:

Reassure your parents that you are not sending them away from their homes; instead, you are making arrangements for them to stay in their homes for extended periods independently. Help them understand that getting outside help will allow them to lead a comfortable life and prevent untoward accidents.

How to respond when aging parents refuse help?


Our elderly loved ones would try hard to resist discussions about seeking outside help for their daily activities. Our parents think it’s too early to discuss these things. After all, they feel that 70 is the new 50 and that they have been managing fine until now and will do so in the future. However, their prevailing health conditions, a fracture, a broken hip, poor heart health, cognitive decline, and many others speak of their compromised physical and mental capability. Therefore, confronting these issues with our parents is required, but at the same time, you must also acknowledge that our parents are adults who have the right to make their own decision. However difficult it may sound, sometimes, for the benefit of our parents, we need to go against their desires. On the other hand, respecting their commands and wishes is also our duty; therefore, we must adopt specific strategies to get our parents to see through our honest desires to keep them safe and sound.
Here is a list of 5 things you can follow when your parents refuse help.

Hear them out:

Listen to what your parents want to say. Your parents may have their reasons for not wanting outside help. After they have voiced their reasons, you need to repeat the same reasons during discussions and simultaneously present your counter reply. Like this, you are reassuring your parents that you have heard them and are trying to solve their problems.

Ease their insecurities:

Old age brings many forms of insecurities. The fear of aging is complex, and elderly parents are very insecure about their physical, emotional, mental, and financial capabilities. All these insecurities are put together to make them agitated, irritated, and frustrated. These emotional manifestations of old age insecurity prevent older people from making the right decision when accepting help from anyone else. They have always believed that they were independent enough before the diagnosis of a specific illness, and no matter their current condition, they can still adequately care for themselves. Therefore, as an adult child, if you are worried about your parents and feel they now require help, it is better to sit with them and take away their insecurities individually. This task will take time and need multiple sessions with your parents to make things work your way.

Discuss the home care options:

Make your parents a part of the decision-making process. The idea behind this is simple. When arranging for outside help for your parents, making them a part of the decision-making is essential. Please give them the list of available home care options. Reassure them that you have searched all the best available options and have zeroed in on a care agency that promises to deliver the best care provider.


In many cases, the parents are worried about having a stranger at home. In such situations, you can always ask the care agency to arrange a meeting with the provider before they officially join in. Your parents get a fair chance to know about their care provider. This small gesture will make your parents more comfortable with their care provider, and they can shed their inhibitions and doubts and get maximum benefits.

Please don’t ignore your needs:

Lastly, it is advisable that amidst all this chaos, you don’t forget about yourself. Understandably, your sole priority is to look after your parents and their needs. However, it is still advised that in caring for your elderly parents, don’t ignore yourself. Putting aside your needs for someone else can significantly affect your physical, mental, and emotional health. We must understand that changes don’t happen overnight, and you would need a substantial amount of time to convince your parents. So, while doing that, taking care of your needs and well-being is necessary.

Feel free to contact us if you need help: Hopefully, this guide has been helpful enough to provide tips on what to do if your parent refuses help from anyone else. In addition, if you need further assistance, you are free to contact us for more information.



Dealing with a parent refusing help from anyone else can be emotionally exhausting and complex. It’s crucial to approach this situation with a deep sense of respect for their autonomy and individuality. While it can be tempting to insist on assistance when a parent refuses help, forcing help upon them may only exacerbate the resistance. Instead, maintaining open and compassionate communication is critical. Express your concerns with empathy, actively listen to their fears and hesitations, and validate their feelings. Creating a supportive and non-judgmental environment may foster a willingness to consider help without feeling coerced.

When a parent refuses help, starting with small, non-intrusive gestures of support can make a significant difference. Offering assistance with tasks or activities that they might find less intimidating could lead to a gradual acceptance of help. Additionally, involving other family members or close friends who positively influence your parent may help them see the benefits of receiving support. It is essential to remember that this process may take time and persistence. Patience and understanding are paramount as you navigate this delicate balance between respecting their wishes and ensuring their well-being. And remember, taking care of your well-being is equally vital, so don’t hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or professionals when needed. Ultimately, you may find a path toward a mutually beneficial solution by approaching the situation with love, empathy, and a deep appreciation for your parent’s feelings.


The post How to effectively intervene if the parent refuses help? appeared first on The Caregiving Strategist.

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Jordan M
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