Why Does Your Senior Loved One Refuse Help?

June 15, 2021 | BY PHS Staff

Are you getting push-back from your senior loved one? Are they refusing your help, even though you’re just, well, trying to HELP them? It can be very frustrating as a caregiver to encounter this behavior. You know they need the assistance, yet you’re being met with resistance at every turn.

But think of it from their point of view: they’re getting older, they don’t feel as sprightly, they’re having a hard time getting tasks done that they used to do with ease. Coupled with that, advancing age is often equated with many negative traits, such as forgetfulness, dependence, grumpiness, confusion, lack of productivity and disengagement. It’s no wonder they’re feeling upset and threatened.

Fortunately, Gettysburg home care services can step in to help when you are facing a roadblock. Often times, it takes a compassionate third party to not only offer help but insist on it and carry it out. After all, a recent study from Harvard Health found that two-thirds of seniors need help doing one or more daily activities.

Challenging Seniors’ Identity

Your loved one may realize perfectly well that they need help with dressing in the morning or medication reminders, or light housework. But there’s something going on behind those realizations. Conflicts can arise when younger family members interact with aging loved ones in ways that appear to challenge the senior’s identity as a capable, competent adult, points out AgingCare.

When the identity of your older loved one is threatened, they tend to lash out, perhaps even engaging in dangerous behaviors in an effort to prove their abilities while reinforcing their own self-worth. They may respond to your suggestions of help by:

  • Arguing: This is how many seniors express their frustration at being made to feel old or frail. They will use their powers of persuasion to reiterate that they are perfectly capable of getting dressed in the morning or making dinner at night. They can go back and forth like this for quite a while, engaging you in an argument that has no winner.
  • Proving Themselves Right: Your senior loved one may respond to your constant offerings of help by engaging in risky behavior to prove to you that they can indeed take out a heavy trash bag down a sloping driveway to the garbage bins, or climb up on the step ladder to change that stubborn light bulb.
  • Exclusion: Another tactic seniors use is to exclude their adult children from medical appointments. Because seniors are within their rights to do so, often times, the children are left out of the healthcare decisions. They may then withhold information and advice from their children that the doctor has given, strengthening their claims that they are “fine.”
  • Hiding Actions: Your senior loved one may start hiding their indiscretions from you rather than heeding your advice, even though they may agree with you to your face. Perhaps you told them they shouldn’t be driving anymore, yet they secretly do anyway. Or maybe you told them to stop eating sweets because they got a recent diagnosis of diabetes, but they squirrel away snacks for when you’re not visiting.


How Can You Get Mom and Dad to Accept Help?

There comes a time when help is absolutely necessary, no matter what your aging parent says. Especially in the case of early onset dementia and mobility decline, safety becomes a big issue. Here’s how you can approach the delicate topic of senior home care.

  • Take your time to observe your loved one. Before you jump all over them after seeing one troubling behavior, take a step back and observe for a while. What can they still do on their own? What can’t they do? Are they struggling with anything in particular? When you become aware of their strengths and weaknesses, you will have a better understanding of which ones are tied to their identity. Only then can you choose your offerings of help carefully and with tact.
  • Be careful what you say. Often times, it’s possible to avoid conflict altogether when you frame your offering of help in the right way. Instead of emphasizing their weakness and causing them perceived shame, appeal to their desire to remain independent. Rather than “forbid” them to drive to a doctor’s appointment, offer to take them yourself and make a day out of it, perhaps taking them to lunch. This turns a negative into a positive, while maintaining their self-respect and sense of purpose.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

Helping a senior loved one who doesn’t want that help can be frustrating for you as a caregiver. We can help take some of the burden off your shoulders with our elderly home care services. To learn more, please contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.