4 Tips to Deal with Seniors Who Refuse Help

seniors who refuse help

When your senior refuses help

One of the most frustrating parts of being a caregiver is dealing with an older adult who stubbornly refuses help. Many seniors get defensive and won’t admit that they need assistance.

But when their health and safety are at risk, how do you convince them to accept help?


Problem-solving tips from a geriatrician

Dr. Leslie Kernisan, a San Francisco geriatrician, shares 4 expert tips to solve this common challenge in her NextAvenue article 4 Things to Do When Your Parents Are Resisting Help. Here are the key highlights from her action plan.


4 step action plan for stubborn seniors who refuse help

To keep you from pulling out your hair in frustration, Dr. Kernisan recommends taking these four key actions when your senior refuses help.

1. Consider the possibility of cognitive impairment
This can affect an older parent’s insight and judgment and can also affect how well they can process your logical arguments.

2. Make sure you’ve heard and validated your parents’ emotions
Logical arguments often fail to convince the people we have emotional relationships with. This is true even when they are younger and presumably have good mental faculties. That’s because people are not rational about many things, especially when it’s an issue that stirs up certain emotions in them.

3. Review your parents’ goals and what trade-offs they might be willing to make
For most older adults, the goals of safety and longevity bump up at some point against the goals of autonomy and independence. Most conflicts that older adults have with their families end up revolving around this dilemma.

4. Distinguish what you need from what your parents need
When we get anxious about our parents’ safety, or their reluctance to accept help, what is it we really need and want? What fear or desire is driving us? People being people, we all have a tendency to try to address our needs by wanting other people to do something differently, or by trying to keep things from changing.


Bottom line

In Dr. Kernisan’s full article, her action plan gives suggestions for what to do when your older adult refuses to accept the help they need to live safely. She also includes smart tips and questions to use as conversation starters for the discussions you’ll need to have with them.


Next Step  Get Dr. Kernisan’s full action plan for getting seniors to accept help at NextAvenue


You might also like:
How to Talk with Parents About Aging: Conversation Starters
Checklist for Visiting Elderly Parents
Signs Your Parents Need Help


By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Always Best Care

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