What To Do When Elderly Parent Refuses Care?

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Elderly parents can get very stubborn sometimes. This article talks about what to do when elderly parent refuses care that you genuinely feel they need.

Old age is the phase of life when most diseases and physical conditions affect us, making our lives difficult. If you have elderly parents, it is natural for you to be concerned about their welfare. 

You want your elderly parents to get proper care and support throughout the day, and it can be difficult for you to be there for them all the time due to work commitments. Elderly parents without any support often forget their appointments, medicines, or they have difficulty in preparing their meals, and so on. 

What to Do When Elderly Parent Refuses Care

Many times elderly parents refuse care because of their self-respect. They do it because they don’t want to be an extra burden on you. This article will talk about what you can do when your elderly parents refuse care.

Why Do Elderly Parents Need Care?

Aging In Place

America has about 52 million people that are 65 years old or above. 9 out of 10 elderly Americans want to age in place. Aging in place comes with its challenges and problems, especially if your parents refuse to get care even when they become infirm or 


Dementia is a common occurrence among the elderly. There are about 5,8 million in America that suffer from this condition. It is a condition in which the patient begins to lose their memory. Unfortunately, the symptoms are difficult to understand, and come in phases so many times people miss them entirely.

People suffering from this condition require intensive care as they can forget to do even the basic things independently. 

Why Do Elderly Parents Refuse Care?

Sometimes when you suggest that your elderly parents opt for a caregiver, this suggestion is met with anger and resentment. The most common response of parents to this suggestion is that they will say they are healthy enough and don’t need any caregiver to look after them. 

You will have to understand that if your parents are acting stubborn, then they are doing so because of the values and emotions ingrained in them from a very young age.

Most older adults belong to a generation that believed in the values of independence and living with integrity. If you have a better understanding of the behavior of your parents, then you will find it easier to talk to them. 

What to Do When Elderly Parent Refuses Care

Ideally, everyone should approach this conversation with empathy and respect. They should try to understand the reasons of other people as well. 

You must remember that you and your parents are at entirely different stages of life. You don’t know about the thoughts, motives, fears, and emotions they are going through. Aging can be scary for people. Sometimes your parents may be living in denial, unable to accept the fact they have grown old.

Freedom and your ability to choose are very close to people in America. When a person starts losing this freedom to make one’s choices because of age or cognitive decline, they go through a whole range of emotions. 

Many people have a sense of pride in their freedom, but when this freedom is taken away, the people tend to be scared and refuse any change to their lives even if that change will benefit them.

How to Care for an Elderly Parent Who Lives Alone?

Your parent has taken care of you for most of your life, and now is coming the time for you to return the favor. You often feel responsible for keeping your loved ones safe and happy.

For some parents, living on their own and having their own independence makes them happy, even if it may not be the safest thing anymore. As their health deteriorates with age, you may be worried about things like your parent falling, forgetting to take medications, or forgetting to turn off the stove.

Here are some tips to care for an elderly parent who lives alone:

  • Check up on your parent often and do what you can to make them feel happy and safe.
  • Ask friends or relatives to visit but not make it feel like they are hovering. Try and make it feel more like a social event.
  • This also leads into trying to make sure your parent has a good social circle. Living alone can sometimes be lonely, which can cause some to isolate themselves socially.
  • Try to combat this by ensuring your parent has friends and family around that care about them. Encourage them to get involved in other social events. Other social networks may involve interactions with carers and health professionals, local shopkeepers, and neighbors.
  • Encourage your parents to make phone calls, video calls, or even writing letters to friends and family if transportation is becoming difficult.
  • Adopting a pet is also a good way to combat loneliness as people usually find comfort in companionship. A low-maintenance pet like a cat or a budgie bird is best, so your parent is not strained trying to care for it. You may also choose to help your parent care for the pet every so often, for example cleaning the cat litter for a pet cat, to make caring for it less strenuous.
  • Other things you can do include accompanying your parent on activities they enjoy, like shopping or gardening. It may be a nice thing for both of you to have a joint activity you work on together. This also helps your parent to continue on with their hobbies should they be limited in doing them in any way. If you are worried that your parent is a fall risk, you can talk with them about installing railings, ramps, or protecting sharp furniture edges.

How to Talk to Elderly Parents and Understand What They Want?

Open communication is an important part of any relationship, so it is essential that you talk with your parent to understand what they want and what they may be feeling. Sometimes elderly people may not understand the risks of living alone, or they may simply not care.

A heart to heart communication between mother and daughter

Be sure to have this conversation in a lighthearted way so that your parent can understand your worries for them. Ask them about the things they enjoy doing, and how you can help if they struggle to do these things now. Make sure to not be on them too much, while still caring for them, about things you may deem improper.

For example, one blind patient said he likes to leave things on the floor; it causes him to be more careful when walking. While it may appear messy to others, this was done internationally to help himself.

Also ensure that your parent has loved ones around, as sometimes they may not equate living alone with loneliness although it often leads to it. Whatever you do, always be sure to make them feel loved and important.

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What May be Their Fears or Concerns?

It is also important to talk to your parent about their feelings and what they are concerned about. Many times, elderly people value their independence and do not want to feel like they are losing their freedom or losing control over their life.

In this case, help your parent to use different assistive technologies, social support networks, or invest themselves in hobbies to keep this feeling of independence while staying safe.

Getting stuck in a wheelchair is another thing they may fear, again as this would rob them of their independence in a way.

Sometimes in assisted living facilities, the staff will request their patients to be wheeled around instead of walking to reduce risks, even if they can still walk. This is not always the best option as they may be safer physically, but it can have a poor effect on their mentality.

They may also fear becoming lonely and feel disconnected with others because of not feeling needed or feeling like they are not part of society anymore. This may be especially relevant for those with dementia, as they may feel more misunderstood.

Also, with dementia patients, they may recognize their memory loss leaving them fearful and frustrated over it. Many elderlies who live alone may have lost their spouse, which can sometimes make them feel depressed and useless without their other half.

Some fears may come with living alone as well, like the fear of someone breaking in. They may also fear being alone in case of an emergency. For example, if they fall and cannot get up on their own and cannot reach the phone, they may fear being stuck waiting for someone to find them.

Many older people as well feel that they are too old to do things, like meet new people or continue on with their hobbies. This may lead them to stop doing the things they enjoy. Also, with age, the parent usually becomes more dependent on the child or whoever is caring for them, and they may feel like a burden.

Living Independently vs. Moving to a Care Facility

If you feel your parent is not safe living alone anymore, it may be time to talk with them about moving to a care facility. This is often a difficult conversation to have. The best way to increase the odds of your parent accepting this kind of help should it come to it, is to have a plan in place for long term care ahead of time.

Elderly walking with cane assisted by caregiver

This can be done through living wills, trusts, or power of attorney. An assisted living facility is defined as “a form of housing arrangement that provides some assistance with activities of daily living.”

Some of these activities include dressing, bathing, mobility, and personal hygiene. And while assisted living aids in many things, it is not to the same extent as a nursing home. If you feel that it may be time to have this conversation with your parent, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your parent have poor personal hygiene?
  • Do they get lost going places?
  • Do they have lots of unopened mail?
  • Do you notice strange changes in their home? Like things being in very odd places for example.
  • Are they suddenly losing weight?
  • Are they at risk of falling and injuring themselves?
  • Do they need assistance bathing?
  • Can they hold a cup without shaking and are they able to feed themselves?
  • Is a walker or wheelchair required for mobility? And, are they able to move without one?
  • Are they confused? What is their mental state like?

If you answered yes to many of these questions, it may be time to consider moving your parent to a care facility for their safety and overall well-being.

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Tips For Dealing With Elderly Parents That Refuse Care

It is in the person’s right to refuse care and help. You cannot force anybody to receive care and support. You will have to convince them by listing the merits of receiving proper care. You can follow some of the simple tips given below to deal with older adults that are refusing care:-

Contact Professional Elder Care Support

You can contact professional elder care support. If you cannot persuade your elderly parents to take help and support, you can rely on these professional experts to try and convince them to do the same. 

The professionals will explain to your parents how care and support are necessary for good health, vitality, and happiness. 

After consulting with a professional, your parents also might feel that your concern is genuine, and they might accept your requests. You can also contact the administration on aging for healthcare-related support and knowledge. 

What to Do When Elderly Parent Refuses Care

Try To Discipline Them

You can also be a little strict with your parents. You can start by saying no to them on occasions requiring you to say so. This is very similar to when you were growing up, and your parents used to say no to you on some things. 

Learn to say no to them on matters concerning their medications, safety, etc. Somewhere down the line, your parents will also understand that you are doing all of this for their well-being.

Cutting out on unhealthy food items such as caffeine and sugar can be the small steps where you can start being stricter on your elderly parents. Caffeine and sugar are not ideal for older adults as caffeine can help develop insomnia. The prevalence of insomnia is 30% to 48% in the elderly in America. 

Try And Set Boundaries For Them

You can also convince your parents not to refuse any care by setting up a few boundaries. It is very likely that without these boundaries, your elderly parents will suffer from fatigue and exhaustion. 

You will have to act as a filter between their desires and what they end up doing. You can remove all their unreasonable desires or requests by making them understand the implications of these unjustified requests. 

Take Help Of Close Friends And Relatives

Involving people or taking help from people close to your parents will help a lot as well. These people can be anyone, from their friends to their siblings. There is a chance they might have a better method of explaining things to them. Then there is also the trust factor that comes into play. 

Hearing something from someone they trust will have a positive impact. No one likes to lose control of their lives, especially to a stranger, so you can help eliminate this problem by keeping someone as the caregiver whom your parents trust and know. 

What to Do When Elderly Parent Refuses Care

Plan Everything Beforehand

You might need to plan everything for them carefully. You should be prepared to answer all their queries through planning, and your answers should also be satisfying and convincing. You can also discuss with your parents and prepare proper daily plans for them. 

These plans should account for all the things that your parents like to do, along with considering what are the things that they should not indulge in. Discussing and preparing a plan will create a mutual agreement between you and your elderly parents. 

This will also provide them with a platform to give their inputs. Patients with Alzheimer’s will need this a lot as they can easily forget about things because of memory loss. 

Go Slow And Have Patience

It is also an excellent option to start by taking small steps initially. For instance, you can start by appointing a part-time caregiver before appointing a full-time caregiver. This will give your parents a basic idea of what it is like to live with a caregiver. You can also instruct the caregiver to not interfere too much in your parents’ lives and tell them to help them with smaller tasks throughout the day, such as driving, picking up stuff, arranging stuff, and so on. 

Starting with smaller changes helps your parents adjust quickly to the changes in their lives. You don’t want them to be unprepared for the changes and suddenly overhaul their lifestyle. You will surely experience resistance this way. Gradually introducing these changes is the best option that you can follow. 

What to Do When Elderly Parent Refuses Care

Remain Positive

You are eventually going to convince your elderly parents to opt for the proper care even though initially they refuse to. You must stay optimistic. Approaching the conversation with a positive spin will affect the thought process of your parents.

For instance, instead of listing and telling them about the activities they cannot do, you can list all the activities they can still do along with their benefits. 

If you can make your parents believe that instead of changing and limiting their current lifestyle, you are trying to complement their lifestyle by making it simpler. Your elderly parents must have a friendly and cordial relationship with their caregiver rather than having a restricting relationship. 

Grandkids Can Help

You can even try asking their grandkids to listen to you. Grandparents and grandkids share an extraordinary relationship, due to which they are very close to each other. If your parents are avoiding you, they might say yes now if their grandparents ask them. 

You can also use their grandkids to show the bad habits that they should stop or restrict. For instance, if someone from your parents drinks or smokes, you can ask them to quit as this would not set an excellent example for their grandchildren. 

Many grandparents would want to keep their image clean around their grandchildren, so this strategy might help you convince them. 

Stay Calm 

You must try to remain calm as your elderly parents refusing to listen to you can be very irritating, especially when you are concerned about their safety and welfare. You must also remember to take a breather between all this persuasion and negotiation. 

Talking to your friends, siblings, and other family members can be very helpful. Stress and anxiety have a lot of adverse effects on our bodies and health. Between looking after your own family and parents, it is essential that you still look after yourself. 

What to Do When Elderly Parent Refuses Care

Fear of aging is real; it is the condition in which a person is scared about being old. Due to this fear, the person often faces difficulties and issues daily. You must try to understand them before you persuade them to join an assisted living facility or take the help of caregivers. 

Fear of Aging

As a person grows old, there is cognitive impairment in the body, due to which the person starts to feel that the other people are unable to understand their feelings. Generally, older adults that display anger over such topics are aware of their situations. It’s just that they aren’t ready to agree to it. 

The best way is to try and reduce their fears by providing them with the reassurance that they require. Proper validation can work wonders at this stage of life; if you encourage and compliment older adults even over the smallest things, then they will slightly move away from that fear of aging. 

Another fantastic way to reduce this fear is to talk about the future and discuss plans with them. Talking about the future with your elderly parents will give them hope that they will get through this stage of life. 

Are You Responsible For Your Elderly Parents?

Yes, you are responsible for providing the basic amenities and care for your elderly parents, but not if they willingly refuse it. As American citizens, it is well within their rights to refuse the care you are offering. 

This is why you will need to persuade and convince them to accept your offer. However, as you move to different states, the rules slightly change. The word care here usually refers to financial support, medical bills, healthcare needs, etc. 

In most cases, the elderly refuse care because they fear what will happen to them if they accept the care. The rest of the people usually deny the care because they are not yet ready to accept that they are aging and they need assistance. You must follow the low-key approach while trying to convince your elderly parents to accept the care. 

There is always a logical explanation behind these arguments from your elderly parent’s perspective. You have to try and understand their point of view and come to a mutual agreement so that both parties are happy. 

What to Do When Elderly Parent Refuses Care

Wrap Up

In this article, we have tried to give you an insight into simple tips on how you can try to convince your elderly parents not to refuse care. Elderly parents can be very stubborn at times, just like small kids. Dealing with them is not easy. 

Due to this reason, you cannot take an aggressive approach as it would complicate things furthermore. You must follow a considerate and understanding approach to tell your elderly parents the merits of receiving this extra care. 

We hope these tips and ideas have been helpful in convincing your parents to accept care. If you find the ideas worthwhile, please share them on your social media handles and in your groups, so that others may benefit from them as well.