It can be very challenging to support an aging parent, especially navigating how to effectively communicate. Unfortunately it is common for edlerly parents to refuse help. Researchers at Penn State University found that 77% of adult children experience difficulty getting their elderly parents to take advice or receive help with daily tasks. The bright side is that these situations are not hopeless.

Aging care and health professionals insist that these steps can help relieve the resentment and anxiety that comes with assisting those elderly parents who continue to refuse help.

1. Try To Understand Their Thoughts And Feelings

Getting older and aging is a tough reality to grasp, everyone can relate to that. A lot of older adults tend to live with dementia or various mental health issues like anxiety and depression. When communicating with an elderly parent it is important to understand their feelings, especially when telling them that they need help.

In times where an elderly parent is difficult to get through to, ask yourself these questions about your parents’ behavior:

Is this action a habit?

Are they concerned about losing independence?

Is depression or anxiety taking a toll?

Are they confused or suffering from Dementia?

What could be causing them fear?

Getting to the root of why your parents’ are behaving a certain way can help guide you to making positive changes.

2. Find Solace In The Situation

Even though you have the best intentions for your parents, they are still in control of their own life and care options. They are adults, who possess the right to make decisions, even if you think they’re not the best choices.

It is a difficult fact to accept, but realizing this may take some weight off your shoulders and potentially enhance the relationship you have with your elderly parent.

Senior Consultant with Elderly Man

3. Know When To Get Involved

No one likes to be nagged, or pushed into doing something. When it comes to things like your parents updating their phone, joining a fitness club, canceling their cable, or any other beneficial, but nonessential task, it’s probably best to leave those decisions to them.

It would be beneficial to focus on which issues are most important instead. Things like your parents’ safety, and major health decisions should be your priority.

If there is a matter that is really pressing to you, they might not feel the same way, so if you are going to get involved don’t throw too much at them at once.

4. Treat Your Aging Parents Like Adults

At times it may feel as if your roles have been reversed, instead of them attending to you, you’re now attending to them. It is easier to assist an elderly parent refusing help when you approach them with respect and acknowledgement.

Do not infantilize your parents.

The goal is to ensure that your parents are receiving the best care possible, belittling them is not going to help you achieve that goal.

Treating your elderly parents like the adults they actually are will get you a lot further. When helping your parents remember to take their medications, or even getting treatment for various health concerns, approach it like you would with any other adult.

5. Ask Them To Do It For Their Children, or Grandchildren

Your parents might not be willing to make a change for just themselves, but maybe they will for a loved one. Seeing how their changes could benefit someone like their grandkids could put everything into a new perspective for them.

Don’t be afraid to express how their actions are affecting you as well. Relay to them that by following your advice, you will feel much better about your current situation.

6. Include Your Parents’ In Future Plans

Knowing that they are still included in future plans may help motivate your elderly parent to receive the appropriate care. Especially for those aging parents dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, reminders of important dates can be extremely helpful and ease anxiety.

Talk about upcoming events frequently. Things like anniversaries, graduations, and weddings are things to look forward to and can keep them engaged. Put the dates on a calendar, and share in their anticipation.

Everyone craves inclusiveness, make sure your parents know you want them around.

Always listen to your parents’ needs. You may have the purest intentions when assisting them, but remind yourself that they still have autonomy over their decisions. Letting them keep that sense of independence is important.

Whenever an important decision or conversation arises, ensure that your standpoint is coming from a place of love and care.

Finding the balance between your aging parents’ wants and needs, and the advice of a healthcare professional will make assisting an elderly parent that is refusing help less stressful.