This is one of the biggest challenges care givers face. Mom or dad is getting frail, want to remain in their home, and do not want anyone (besides family) coming over to help. You research options, and find some good ones. This might include: meal delivery, home health aid assistance, house cleaning, in the home, or may mean a move to a place where care is included, such as assisted living. These all sound like good, helpful options to you, but your parent refuses. This leaves you providing their care, and worrying that it is not enough, or how they are doing when you are not there.

How to convince them to accept more help?

First, you need to look at decision making capacity. Is your parent struggling with memory, or judgment? If so, they need to get a medical evaluation so that they and you know definitively what their diagnosis is and what this means in terms of making decisions. Memory impairment does not mean that your parent cannot make decisions, but it is an indication that plans need to be in place, to assist with decisions, and for the future, when their memory impairment could become worse.

Your parents, (and you!) should also have advances directives in place for decision making, if they are not able to. This is accomplished with an elder law attorney. This means they chose someone to make health and financial decisions in the event that they cannot. This is a good opportunity to discuss what your parent would want for end of life care, or care during a serious illness, so that you can make decisions for them, that they would have wanted.

It is best when taking the above steps to begin a discussion with your parent as to what their goals and wishes are for this time in their life. Ask them what they would like and what their concerns are. Keep an open mind during this discussion. Allow them to say what is on their mind. If you disagree, you can discuss your concerns later. Listen and validate their concerns. Statements like “I can understand that concern” can help them feel heard.

Then, when working towards bringing care into the home, or a move, share with them your research. Inform them that you have looked at all the options, and this is the best one that you could find.

Discuss your concerns and see where their goals and yours for them intersect. Validate that the change is hard, and that you are there for them, to problem solve if needed. Let them know you are partnering with them, to meet their goals. It can be helpful for some caregivers to tell their parents that this help is to give them (the child) piece of mind, so they are able to be at work, or away, or meeting their obligations, without worrying about the parent.

You may have to start small, they may just accept a house cleaner, and not a home health aid. Use this as a starting point. If this goes well, then after a time, you can reintroduce the idea of the home health aid. This is what I call baby steps. Introduce a small change, allow time to adjust, and then try for more. As you try for more, remind them that they are happy with the house cleaner (which I hope they are) and were anxious about that at first.

It is challenging to step into someone else’s life to help them when they used to do it all for themselves. Just know that you are not alone, and don’t try to change too much at once, take it one thing and one day at a time.