What to do When an Elderly Loved One Refuses Healthcare
Aging Matters

Guest column by Tim and Gina Murray, co-founders of Aware Senior Care.

Nearly every day, our team hears from concerned family members who are desperately trying to provide much-needed help for their elderly loved one who simply refuses care.

Their parents will say things like, "I'm fine. I never needed help before, and I'm not going to change now." Or "I refuse to pay someone to help me do things I can do on my own." (Even when the reality is often much different than this). It's understandable that an elderly family member refuses care. Aging is a significant change, and all of us most eventually come to terms with the fact that we can no longer live completely independently.

No matter the reason, the question remains - what can you do when you know your loved one needs home care, but they refuse to accept help? We've got a few tips for you to help navigate this difficult conversation.


Empathy with your parent or another loved one must be at the top of the list. Without establishing trust, it's likely that conversation will go nowhere and both people will end up feeling frustrated.


Sometimes, as you unpack their concerns and build trust, you may see that your loved one has some false assumptions about what "help" means and how it might impact their life. Take the time to correct misconceptions and clarify the shared goal in helping your parent live well and thrive in this new stage of their lives.

Embrace the expenses

This is probably the greatest barrier to providing home care. Our best advice is to embrace this conversation, rather than avoiding it. Be up front about the costs of home care. Avoiding care upfront may result in more health care expenses down the road.

Encourage a new perspective

Encourage your loved one to think about how their decision impacts you and their family. The turning point with my own mother was when I asked her to consider how her decision was affecting me and my family? Once she saw how planning for home care and accepting assistance would help her loved ones too, it was an easy choice for her to make.

Discussing home care can be a difficult, and it will likely take multiple conversations to build empathy, educate them about the realities of home care, explain the expenses and encourage your parent to develop a new perspective about the situation.

The key to the process - in addition to our guidance above - is to try to give your loved ones a sense of control. Don't force a decision or a timeline on them. Present options and help them review them all together. Discuss the alternatives and each possible outcome. And remember, our team - and so many other excellent home care agencies across the country - are here to help you.

Tim and Gina Murray are the co-founders of Aware Senior Care. It has been recognized over and over again for top-quality, professional in-home care. Notably, the company has won ten top local and national awards in the past year for its care and service.

For more information, visit AwareSeniorCare.com or call 919-436-1871.

Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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