When Aging Parents Won’t Accept Help

Posted by on Sep 7, 2010 in Family Relationships, Sensitive Conversations | 0 comments

Even families who have good relationships with each other face challenges and uncertainty when the needs of aging parents change. One of the common issues is aging parents who appear to refuse help. It causes frustration in adult children and anxiety in the aging parent. An impasse can easily result.

Several new dynamics emerge. You become aware of your own emotions – worry, sadness, anger. If you have siblings, you wonder what roles each of you will play to support each other and your parents. You may feel anxious because family relationships have been strained in the past.  

Most families face one or more of four common challenges: 

WHAT IF MY PARENTS WON’T ACCEPT MY HELP?

Initial discussions can be difficult, especially if your parents do not see the need for help, or are unwilling to accept help because they don’t want to be a burden.  People need to feel that their relationships are two-way. If you can find ways to show your parents that they are giving you something in return for your assistance, they may be more inclined to accept your help.

Your parents may worry that getting help means a loss of independence. Try to discuss this topic when it is a “future possibility.” Ask your parents how they want to handle future needs for support. You may need to obtain more information about services available in your parent’s community so that your parent is making an informed choice. 

Some people refuse help because of mental or emotional problems or disorders. If your parent has addictions to alcohol or drugs, he/she may not willingly accept your advice. If your parent has a long-standing mental health disorder, they may rebuke advice for treatment. If you are caught in one of these distressing situations, you might find help by accessing a local seniors’ centre, local health organizations, or professional counseling.

It’s important to involve others in these discussions. When someone else notes the need for help and confirms what you have been saying, your parents may be more inclined to agree. They may listen more closely to their peers or prefer to have friends help out rather than ask you to do so.

Ultimately, you must respect a parent’s decision even if you do not agree with it. Unless there is a major risk to others, or your parent is not competent to make decisions because of a medical diagnosis, your parent has the right to choose.

Adapted from: Your Aging Parents (2ed.), p.62

These situations have the potential to push a family further apart, but they can also bring it closer together. Managing our own feelings and reactions, respecting and accepting other viewpoints, and communicating effectively are the keys to surviving these challenges.

 

Vol. 6, No. 3, © ElderWise Publishing 2010.
You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at
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