Watching your parents age isn’t easy, especially if they start struggling with physical or mental health issues. You most likely want to help your aging parent in any way you can to ensure they remain comfortable and get needed support. Elderly parents may resist change because they don’t want to accept the fact they need help. Although you can’t force your family members to do something they don’t want to do, there are ways to help aging parents realize some assistance may be best for maintaining their quality of life. Learning how to talk to elderly parents about accepting help is necessary to foster open and honest conversations about their well-being.


Concept image on how to talk to elderly parents about accepting help


Talking to Aging Parents About Changes

Change can be difficult at any age, but it’s especially difficult for older adults experiencing a physical or cognitive decline that affects their ability to make their own decisions. Your parents may be worried about losing control over their own lives. It may also be jarring for an elderly parent to need help and guidance from their adult children when the caregiving roles were once reversed. Talking to parents about moving to a retirement community can be a sensitive and emotional conversation. That said, change doesn’t have to be scary. It can open new doors and provide your elderly parents with a support system they don’t have access to at home.

How to Talk to Elderly Parents About Accepting Help and What to do If they Refuse

If your elderly parents refuse help, having an open conversation about their worries may be beneficial. It can be hard for parents to accept that it’s unsafe for them to live alone or without assistance. Bringing up alternative living options such as assisted Continuing Care Retirement Communities too soon may make them less willing to have the discussion at all. Here are a few tips on how to approach stubborn aging parents about getting help without making them feel like their independence is being forfeited.

Provide Solutions That Allow Them to Have Control and Autonomy

A major reason aging parents refuse help is because they’re afraid of losing control. You should make it clear to your mom or dad that accepting help isn’t limiting how much control they have over their lives but making it easier to perform daily tasks and continue living independently. They may also be concerned about finances or privacy regarding medical conditions. Conducting research on these matters before the conversation may provide your older parents the reassurance they need.

Accept Your Own Limits

It’s important to remind yourself there’s only so much you can do if a stubborn parent repeatedly refuses help. This is one of the important tips on how to talk to elderly parents about accepting help and respecting their autonomy. Their opinion may change over time, so it’s a good idea to occasionally keep trying, but don’t let it consume your life. Take care of your mental health by practicing self-care, such as taking the occasional day trip or spa day or joining a family caregiver support group. Seeking help from other family members can also ease the stress of trying to manage your loved one’s well-being alone.

Stay Positive and Empathetic

Try seeing the situation from your parent’s point of view. This can help you maintain empathy when discussing hiring a caregiver or considering assisted living options. Make it clear your suggestions stem from a place of love and concern for your parent’s well-being. Maintaining a positive tone may make them more amenable to accepting help or at least having a conversation, because they won’t feel as if you’re attacking or trying to guilt them.


Concept image for senior not wanting to listen and get help


Build Trust

Since many older adults are worried about losing independence and control, it’s important to build trust by ensuring you won’t do anything they aren’t comfortable with. For example, if you suggest a senior living community but they aren’t interested, don’t inquire for more information or schedule a visit behind their back. Listen to their wishes and focus on the options they do seem interested in. This may make your parent feel more comfortable talking to you because they trust you’ll respect their preferences and concerns.

Reframe Conversations Around You and Other Loved Ones

Sometimes, letting an aging parent know their refusal to get help is negatively impacting other loved ones can change their mind. Many parents may resist help if they believe it would be a burden on the family. However, if they realize their resistance is actually hurting their adult children, they may be more willing to see the situation differently and accept help. Framing the conversation around your own needs may feel selfish, but your emotions are also valid, and expressing them to your parents can strengthen your relationship.

Let Them Feel Like They’re Making Decisions

Involving your parents in the decision-making process is one of the best ways to help them maintain independence and control. Your aging loved one is still an adult, and their input matters when it comes to their personal well-being. If your parent has a physical impairment or other health issues that make it difficult to care for themselves, ask open-ended questions, such as what assistance they believe will be most helpful. This gives them control over what happens to them and may encourage more positive feelings about accepting help.


Son hugging his father


Enlist the Help of Professionals if Necessary

If the situation becomes severe, such as your aging parents still refusing help when they can’t adequately care for themselves and their condition is worsening, professional help may be necessary. Doctors, social workers, and other health experts have the resources and knowledge needed to communicate the seriousness of your loved one’s health. This may help your parent realize what’s at stake and encourage them to consider care options.

If you and your parent decide a retirement community is the right move, Riddle Village in Pennsylvania is here to help. Our retirement community in PA offers several care levels, meaning we can meet your loved one’s needs whether they require 24-hour skilled nursing care or the occasional helping hand with personal care tasks. Contact us today by calling 610-891-3700 to schedule a visit and see if our community is the right fit.