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How to improve communication when your aging parent refuses help

August 24, 2021


It is heartbreaking. You offer your aging parent help, only to be rejected.

Each rejection hurts as much as the previous one.

You never thought supporting your aging parents would be easy. Yet, the weight of the challenges ahead can feel overwhelming.

American adult children are hardly alone. Many adult children describe their parents as stubborn on important life matters like saying, “yes” to a little extra help.

The good news is you can take the stress and resentment out of these discussions. Read on to learn more about the steps you and your family can take to ensure your aging parents get the help they need. 

Acceptance comes first

Ultimately, the decision on life and care options are up to your mother or father.

Accepting this reality can frame the discussion about assisted living care from the parent perspective. With this as the starting point, conversations will be less stressful and more productive.

Avoid being hard on yourself

Many families face the fallout of trying to get their loved one extra help.

In one possible scenario, you may ask your parent to purchase medical travel insurance. While a medical event is unlikely, you can see the wisdom in being cautious. Your parent might not feel the same way. Much to your dismay, a medical emergency arises. Soon, you are on the next early-morning flight to a distant city to ensure your parent can return safely.

It is in these life lessons that you can see the benefit of your intentions and actions. Remember this proves that you are human, and you are doing your best.

Remember their feelings

Aging can be a beautiful but complicated process, especially on the physical and mental self.

Keep your parent’s feelings in mind when approaching them when you know they might need some help.

First recognize their autonomy and then trace their actions back to possible motivations. Is this a habit? Are they scared? Do they suffer from anxiety or depression? Are they confused? Are they showing signs of Alzheimer’s or one of the many causes of dementia symptoms?

By seeing the root cause of your parent’s behavior, you can better bring about change in the most positive and compassionate of ways.

Remind them about their grandchildren

Talking about your parent’s grandchildren can divert any difficult discussion and brighten any moment.

Nothing brings them greater pride and joy. So, the next time you are in negative space, tell your parent how much their grandchildren love them and want only what is best. This could be one way to change behavior.

End loneliness

Many aging people are put at greater health risk due to a lack of socialization. Now more than ever, because of the challenges of COVID-19, a greater number of aging individuals live in isolation. These conditions can lower their spirits and jeopardize their physical health.

Residents of senior living communities, which provide positive outlets and opportunities to engage with others, can live more happily.

Our “Endling Loneliness in Seniors” guide looks into what life is like at a senior living community that has it all. With a full calendar of life-enrichment activities, residents at supportive communities like Hollenbeck Palms are constantly reminded that they are not alone.