Your father’s eyesight is deteriorating. He refuses to stop driving. Your mother has fallen twice this year. She won’t accept help. Whether it’s a parent, grandparent, relative or friend, it’s tough watching a loved one age. It’s even tougher when you try helping a parent, but they refuse the extra care. 

Having the conversation on long-term care isn’t an easy one. Tensions run high and it’s emotionally exhausting — but, you’re not alone. Our compassionate staff here at McCortney Hospice has gathered six strategies to help make that talk a little easier when you’re helping a parent who refuses care.

The biggest key when determining (and encouraging) long-term care is understanding your loved one’s fears about aging.

1. It’s never bad to begin the conversation early.

The idea of the conversation itself is enough to make you cringe, but in reality, it can be relaxed if you approach it with an open heart and mind. As your parent ages, invite subtle opportunities to talk about caregiving — ideally before a health crisis takes place. Questions like “Where do you see yourself getting older?” or “How would you feel about hiring a housekeeper?” can make the transition run a lot smoother.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

As we mentioned earlier, why is your parent refusing care? Most likely, they have very real fears behind it. Having this knowledge helps you better understand where they’re coming from while allowing you to better tailor the solution. Is it about independence? Is it discomfort having someone else present in the house? The most important aspect of the strategy is listening.

3. Assess the problems, prioritize and strategize.

Wish you had a roadmap? Begin with two lists: one with the problems that need to be addressed, the second for the steps you’ve taken. Also be sure to jot down any resources you’d like to look into. Tackling the issue in chunks is a lot easier to digest when you’re troubleshooting — while relieving a great deal of stress.

4. No size fits all, present them options.

If you’re considering home health, palliative, hospice or nursing care, include your parent whenever possible. Rather than just taking your word for it, allow them to tour the facilities or meet the caregiver that will be helping them.

If your parent is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s, bring up the aspects that are meaningful to them. Rather than going into great detail, let them know that the caregiver is there to help with walks, meals, and running errands throughout the day. Familiar tasks such as these will often allow your parent to feel less threatened

5. Remember to be patient with them.

While this may seem like a given, it’s easy to get frustrated with a parent refusing care. Be patient and give them time to acclimate to the idea. Conversations may get repetitive, but ask open-ended questions and look for opportunities that show the practicality of long-term care. Or, if you’re acclimating a loved one to a caregiver, have them accompany you on a few visits. This will help your parent become more familiar with them and the role they’ll be playing.

If your parent is consistently refusing care, stay the course and keep your cool. If you need to find an outside outlet for the emotions you’re feeling, confide in a friend or participate in a caregiver support group. If you’re looking for a local resource, our McCortney Family Hospice team hosts one each month!

6. Accept your limits and show support.

At the end of the day, it’s about your parent’s wants and needs. As long as they’re not risking endangerment, let them make their own decisions. Sometimes things happen and you can’t prevent them. In this situation, show your parent support and consistently empower them to do what’s right for them.

We hope this information helps you navigate the conversation if you have a parent who refuses care. For more information on home health and hospice, give us a call at (405) 360-2400.