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What To Do When Your Ageing Parent Refuses Care

Nothing can be more frustrating than wanting to help your parent as they age, but they just refuse. “I don’t need help,” they tell you. “I’ve been fine on my own this long” they snap. And then they drop this question, “Since when do you know what’s best for my life?”

While you only want the best for them, they may not see it that way initially. It may take some time for your parent to understand this. In the meantime, the resistance you feel may be a reaction to their fear of losing some dignity, control and freedom.

In this post, we’ll discuss 3 reasons your parents may be resisting care and suggestions on how to respond.


1. Your parent gets angry and defensive when you start talking about next steps for care.

Reasons: There could be many reasons your parents are responding in anger to your suggestion for help.

  • Denial. Your loved one is likely in denial and doesn’t believe he or she needs care. They feel they are doing an excellent job taking care of themselves. Your suggestion for extra help could have offended them.
  • Dominance. Role reversals and a shift in power are often met with resistance. Some elderly parents find it challenging to have their adult children make important decisions for them.
  • Fear. For many, fear of the unknown can be extremely scary. Not knowing what tomorrow will look like, physically and mentally, can result in panic.

Solutions:  Identifying the emotions your parent is feeling can make a big difference in how you handle and approach your responses.

  • Be patient. Try to approach the subject from several different angles over a few different conversations. Being prepared that it may take some time but will help alleviate frustration and friction.
  • Be respectful. They are your parent and helped you become the adult you are today. Showing respect for them can help disarm the situation and enable you to get to a resolution faster.
  • Be wise. Pick your battles. Not every dispute needs to be won. Giving in doesn’t signal weakness or that you don’t care. It means you are approaching the situation from a thoughtful and strategic position. You could also ask their GP to talk to them. Sometimes, a professional opinion is more comfortable to accept.


2. Your parent refuses to talk about care, insisting that they are “doing fine” on their own. They quickly change the topic every time you bring up the idea.

Reasons: While not exploding with anger, their unwillingness to have a discussion about care is likely not motivated by their excitement to talk about…anything else! Their stubbornness and resistance to accepting live-in care could be coming from a variety of roadblocks they are facing:

  • Reliance. Many elderly parents are afraid to become a burden to their family, both physically and financially.
  • Overconfidence. This can cause just as many issues as insecurity. Believing they are more capable than they are can be a hard outlook to adjust.
  • Sensitivity. Your parent may not want you to worry about them or take on any stress of decision making. Especially if you are dealing with other stressful situations.

Solutions: Don’t let discussions about care go unresolved simply because your parent is avoiding the issue.

  • Be persistent. Reassuring your parent that they won’t be a burden and you want to help may need to be repeated. Just keep reminding them you are invested in helping them find the right solution.
  • Be firm. In a gentle way. You may need to be more direct when you are discussing care options and reinforce it’s available to enhance their lives and enable them to do more.
  • Be honest. With yourself and with your loved one. Are you giving off any emotion that may make them not want to bother you with their care?


3. Your parent seems to get confused and lose track of what has been discussed, and it appears you are going in circles.

Reasons: There are several reasons your parent may be unusually forgetful and confused. Some may be treated with minor changes, some may be a bit more complicated.

  • Diet. Pay close attention to what your parent is eating. Malnutrition, dehydration and vitamin deficiency can all lead to confusion and memory loss.
  • Medications. Having a severe reaction to a medication may also be a culprit for the changes you are seeing.
  • Physical Ailments. An imbalanced thyroid, a urine infection, a fever or a minor head injury are also possible causes for unusual memory loss and confusion.
  • Dementia. The above conditions are all reversible if treated properly, so start ruling those out first before you think of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Solutions: Seeing your parent struggle with memory and cohesiveness can be upsetting. Do your best not to assume the worse and stay focused on finding the cause.

  • Be thorough. Before you jump to conclusions, have your parent examined by their GP to see if it’s an issue that can be fixed with a few healthy changes.
  • Be calm. It’s easy to assume the worst automatically, but panicking may give the situation a downward spiral.
  • Be prepared. Depending on the diagnosis your parent receives, you may have to change your original plan.


Assuming the parent role for your ageing and ailing parent can be challenging, draining and upsetting. You may find after you’ve tried everything your parent is still unwilling to get help. It may be beneficial to speak to a care agency that has experience in helping other families who have also faced this situation. In many cases, parents who initially rejected the idea of care, changed their opinion once they started receiving it. Hearing from someone who felt the same and had a positive experience could help your parent see how it may help them too.


If you and your parent are close to agreeing, but they still need a bit more information, they may find reading 6 Advantages Of Live In Care helpful. If you still have questions, please give us a call 02392 704 190 or use this form. We can discuss care options with both of you, and find the one that will suit everyone’s needs.


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