7 Tips for Dealing with Aging Parents Who Are Resistant to Care



Caring for an aging parent can require considerable time and attention from an adult child. It can also be emotionally challenging for an adult child when the parent is resistant to the care they need. How do we establish good communication between the parent and the child in this all too familiar long-term care scenario?

We start by working to understand where both sides are coming from as they face this challenge. Understanding why is key in establishing balance and getting the support that both sides need.

Getting older isn’t easy for anyone, but especially for our Florida seniors. Diminished physical and cognitive abilities, combined with the stress of potential life changes such as moving into an assisted living facility and the loss of independence can lead to the fostering of a resistant attitude. A less-than-willing to help attitude is where is starts. In certain circumstances, an elder parent can become downright mean.

This might cause an adult child to question his or her efforts. With an increased amount of understanding and coping strategies, the child can work to see the forest from the trees and guide their aging parent toward healthy outcomes. Let us share seven tips we share with our clients, friends, family, and professional advisors when it comes to working with an aging parent who is resistant to care.

1. Understanding. If your elder parent is resistant or mean, know that there are likely complex emotions at play. Accepting care means accepting that they can no longer fully take care of themselves. Fear and vulnerability is often expressed through stubbornness and anger.

2. Evaluate. Determine what help is needed for your aging parent. If you need assistance, start a conversation with his or her doctor. There may be diagnosable reasons for your parent’s behavior on top of normal stresses.

3. Explain. Explain the benefits of care and the fact that accepting care won’t just be good for your parent, but for you and other family members. Explain that you both will need to compromise on some things.

4. Don’t Take it Personally. It’s easier said than done, but when an elder parent resists or lashes out, try not to react. Patience, focusing on the big picture, and picking your battles will help your parent feel in control while continuing to move the situation forward and this can ease the overall transition.

5. Test Together. No ultimatums are needed. Set up care options related to an aging parent’s various needs, and allow your parent to test the waters on each item. Ask for feedback. Explore the benefits and drawbacks of each option, and accept the process.

6. Cost. Expenses are always a concern, but never a good reason not to do the right thing when it comes to health. Avoid allowing the subject of money to become an excuse by communicating affordable prices and funding — whether it’s your parent’s money, Medicare, Medicaid, or other sources.

7. Take Care. It’s critically important for family caregivers to take care of their own needs while caring for aging parents. Enlisting the help of other relatives can alleviate a lot of stress.

We know this is just the start of the conversation you and your parent need to have if he or she is resistant to care. Do you have questions on this or any other elder law concerns? Do not wait to contact our office and let us help you.