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Comfort Keepers provides award-winning in-home care for seniors and other adults in need of assistance with daily activities. Our highly trained and dedicated caregivers can help your loved one stay in their home for as long as safely possible—a dream come true for many elders.

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5 Common Reasons A Senior Parent Is Refusing Care: Understanding An Older Adult’s Concerns About In-Home Senior Care And Tips For Talking To Them About It

Blog  |  April 21, 2022

Talking To Your Senior Parent About In-Home Care Isn’t Always Easy. 

“Love your parents. We are so busy growing up, we forget that they are growing old.” – Unknown 

Watching your senior parents cope with getting older can be tough. As they age, their abilities change and their needs increase. For most (if not all) seniors, there will come a time when care is required. And, whether it’s because of an illness or the natural challenges that come with ageing, the reversal of roles is often hard to accept—for everyone. It’s not uncommon to see a senior parent refusing care. 

It’s not uncommon for senior parents to refuse care. Even when changes in their health or mobility start to impact their quality of life, asking for and accepting help is hard. Understanding the reasons why your senior loved one is refusing care is the key to having healthy, productive conversations and ultimately, helping them change their perspective. 

Senior man and woman talking together

No One Likes To Think About Themselves As “Old”

Getting old is not widely seen as a positive thing. In fact, according to one study “[s]o many Canadians look down on seniors that ageism has become the most tolerated form of social discrimination in Canada….” It’s no wonder that many seniors want to avoid accepting support that might confirm their status as old. So, if you’re talking to your senior parents about investing in regular or occasional in-home senior care don’t be surprised if you’re met with resistance or outright refusal. There are several common reasons an ageing parent might have for objecting to care and it’s important to understand and acknowledge each one. 

5 Common Reasons Your Senior Parents Are Refusing Care 

    1. They are scared to lose their independence. Your senior mother or father might worry that accepting in-home care will signal the end of their independence. The presence of a caregiver can be experienced as a loss of control and that can be very hard for a senior who is used to managing on their own. 
    2. They worry about being a burden. Once the caregiver, now the one being cared for, aging parents often worry about being a burden on their adult children. Even if you’re more than happy and financially able to either provide or invest in care for your senior parent, the reversal of roles can be difficult to come to terms with. 
    3. They fear being viewed as incompetent or incapable. For some seniors, asking for help is synonymous with being viewed as incapable or, worse, incompetent. Too often seniors are treated like children—dismissed as unable to make safe and healthy choices for themselves. Accepting the help of an in-home caregiver can feel like a confirmation of this stereotype. 
    4. They might be depressed. Unfortunately, depression affects seniors more often than you might realize. And, when a person is depressed it can be hard to ask for or accept help when it is being offered. If your senior parent is depressed, they may not think they need care. Know the signs of senior depression and help your loved one face this challenge before continuing your discussion about in-home care. 
    5. They may be living with a cognitive impairment.  If your ageing mother or father is experiencing the early stages of dementia or another condition that affects their cognition, accepting help may not be something they are capable of. NOTE: You should never assume that your senior parent is not “in their right mind” just because they refuse care. As we’ve seen above, there are many other perfectly valid reasons this could be the case. But, if you are concerned about their cognitive health, encourage them to connect with a health care provider. 

Senior man in the garden with a watering can

How To Talk To Your Senior Parent About Their Reasons For Refusing Care.

You can’t force someone to accept help they don’t want. 

Whatever reason is given, if your senior parent is refusing care you’ll have to talk to them about it. The reasons for refusing help aren’t always logical—but that doesn’t make them wrong. So, when you talk to your ageing mother or father, don’t rely on logic alone. 

  • Speak openly and from the heart. (What are you worried about? How would helping them accept and arrange for in-home senior care make you feel?)
  • Tell them why you think they need care. (What have you observed?) 
  • Be specific about what kind of care you feel they would benefit from. (Acknowledge the things you think your senior parent is capable of and explain why you think they would benefit from support in other areas.) 
  • Above all listen to what they are saying and acknowledge their worries and hesitations. ( Involving your ageing parents in decisions about their own care affirms their agency and independence.)

Chances are this won’t be a one-and-done conversation. Be prepared to revisit the issue several times before coming to a decision that meets their needs and puts your mind at ease. 

Keep The Conversation Going And Work Together To Overcome An Elderly Parent’s Concerns

Talking to your senior parent about in-home care can be an emotional conversation. It can be even harder when your senior loved one is refusing care. But, if you’ve noticed challenges to your loved one’s quality of life, health or safety it’s a conversation that can’t be avoided. The good news is that objections can often be overcome with compassion and persistence. The reasons your senior parent has for refusing care need to be heard, acknowledged and discussed. Then, in time, you’ll be able to review your options and find a solution that feels comfortable for everyone.

If you need help facilitating a conversation with your senior parent, we can help. Contact Comfort Keepers Peterborough today to book a complimentary visit and give your loved one the chance to ask questions, voice their concerns and to learn more about our in-home services and our philosophy of care. Call (705) 243-4042 or email peterborough@comfortkeepers.ca 

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