Perhaps lately, you’ve noticed that your aging loved one has trouble getting around, keeping up with chores or remembering to take their medications. Understandably, you’re concerned and want them to be safe, healthy and supported. You may decide it’s time to talk to them about bringing in additional support, such as an in-home caregiver. But what do you do if your loved one won’t accept help?
While you can’t force an aging parent to accept help if they’re still able to make decisions on their own, there are some ways you can broach the conversation and encourage them to get the care they need.
Why older adults refuse help
First, try to see things from their perspective: Aging can drastically affect a person’s lifestyle, which can be scary. Additionally, there’s a major stigma against aging in our society: It’s seen as negative and unpleasant. When a person feels like their sense of control and autonomy is threatened (such as when a younger relative suggests they get help), they may feel helpless, angry, misunderstood or frightened. Your family members may feel like they’re losing their value and identity as a capable, independent person.
This is why it’s essential to approach these conversations with empathy, reassurance and respect. Ensure your loved one that they matter and are greatly valued by your family and community.
Consider your loved one’s lifestyle and circumstances
Before you bring up the topic of hiring a caregiver, look at your loved one’s circumstances and what they value. Where do they absolutely need help? What can they still do independently? Understanding their situation can help you know how to offer assistance.
Have an open, honest conversation about caregiving
Your loved one probably wants to maintain autonomy and control of their life. They may not believe they need any help. It may hurt their pride to admit they need additional support. Or they may be uncomfortable with a “stranger” in their home.
Ask them to share their concerns and reservations. Do your best to remain empathetic, nonjudgmental and respectful of their feelings.
Focus on the positive aspects of hiring a caregiver
Emphasize that it’s normal for many older adults to get assisted care. Express to them that getting some help can allow them to maintain their independence so they can continue to do the activities they enjoy. Reassure them that hiring a caregiver isn’t a means of restricting them; instead, a caregiver can provide companionship and help make their life easier and more enjoyable.
Talk to your family member about some tasks with which they might need help. Maybe they’d like to delegate light housekeeping chores or have someone to grocery shop for them. Or perhaps they would enjoy a companion who could accompany them on walks or to their local coffee shop.
Express your feelings
Rather than telling your loved one all of the reasons they need a caregiver, consider sharing that you’re concerned for their well-being and would feel much better if you knew they had help with specific tasks. Explain that you want them to live a full, healthy, happy life and having a caregiver in the home a few days a week could help you (and other relatives) worry less about them because you know they have the support they need.
Offer to help them interview potential caregivers. Your being part of the process may ease some of their concerns.
Hiring a caregiver: Start slowly
Another idea when broaching the subject of hiring a caregiver is to suggest someone work a few hours a week. This isn’t about giving your loved one’s lifestyle a major overhaul; it’s about helping them with their everyday tasks and activities.
For example, if appropriate for your loved one’s circumstances, the caregiver could be in their home for four hours on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons.
Get outside support
If your loved one still refuses to consider a caregiver or additional support, enlist the help of their physician, neighbor, friend, religious leader, social worker or geriatric care manager. Getting outside assistance in this matter reinforces how important your loved one is to your family and the community.
If they still won’t budge, there may not be much you can do other than continue to offer love and support. Reiterate that you’re always there for them. In time, they may decide that they’d like to get some extra help.
Caregiving support at home
If your loved one is ready to try in-home care, CareLinx caregivers are trained, pre-vetted, and have undergone a thorough background check to ensure that your loved one receives high-quality care personalized to their needs.