Convince Your Aging Parents to Accept Home Care

As a home health nurse, I have helped many families overcome this challenge.

By Clare Absher RN, BSN  
Updated: 01/17/2019  
  Need help finding care?

Stubborn elderly man resisting the need for home care Photo by Creatista on Bigstock

  Need help finding care?

Hiring in-home care is often met with resistance from aging parents, despite their adamant desire to remain at home. If you've ever talked to Mom or Dad about hiring a caregiver, you're probably familiar with some of the common reasons for refusing home care:

As a former home health nurse, I have helped numerous families resolve these concerns and persuade elderly loved ones to see the value in hiring a caregiver. My experiences have left me with some first-hand advice to overcome this challenge.


1. Ally with the more self-sufficient parent.

When your parents are both living and reside in their own home together, direct your attention to the less needy one. For instance, suggest that their spouse would be the one to benefit from outside assistance even when they both might. By joining sides with the more independent parent, you may ultimately be able to get them both to accept the help they require.

2. Get the caregiver's foot in the door.

Another approach might be to suggest hiring a caregiver to manage some household chores but not actual hands-on care or personal assistance. Often this is seen as less threatening to a loved one's independence and will serve as a means to "get the caregiver's foot in the door". Emphasize getting help handling the heavy housework such as vacuuming and laundry. Suggest help with grocery shopping and travelling to appointments, particularly when driving is no longer an option. In this manner, your parents may accept help they would not have otherwise been agreeable to. Your hope is that they will see the value in having more assistance by developing a trusting relationship with their caregiver.


3. Use the excuse "It's not you, it's me".

If your parent is living alone or with you, redirect the attention on you as the caregiver needing the home care assistance for peace of mind. Emphasize that you would be the one to benefit a lot from such help as many parents place concern for their children' welfare before their own. Suggest that bringing in a homemaker for instance, would alleviate your worry about managing daily household chores such as cleaning, shopping, meals, and laundry. Or should a nurse aide come in to assist your loved one with bathing and personal care, you would have more time to manage other household responsibilities. As a working caregiver, suggest that by having a companion or assistant stay with your loved one, it would relieve you of worries and concerns while away.

4. Start with short-term care.

Suggest hiring an in-home caregiver on a trial or temporary basis or for respite only. It might be a perfect time to bring in help when you have an event to attend or a medical procedure to get done. As a family caregiver you are likely in need a well-deserved vacation and find it an ideal time to approach your parents about getting some assistance. Hiring home care workers on a short-term basis is less threatening and with any luck will prove to be a long-term commitment.

5. Call upon a trusted professional.

Another idea might be to seek the help and advice of a trusted professional who is someone your parents hold in high regard. They might surprise you by their willingness to accept the advice of a long time family physician, a former or current home health nurse, or a family friend in the medical field, prior to your own input. Employ their trusted status as a means to relay your concerns and advise your parents in the right direction.

6. Give them an ultimatum.

Make it clear to your parents that staying at home without assistance is no longer an option. The alternative is relocating to assisted living or other long term care facility. Outline specific examples as to why you feel this way, noting that their safety, health, and general well-being are top concerns. Fall risks, fire risks, and poor medication compliance are a few examples of why they should accept help. Even if it may seem harsh, remember that you have their best interest at heart.

7. Don't take their resistance personally.

In many families, your conflicting role as the child and caregiver hinder your well-meaning attempts at helping your parents. The basis for your actions should not be confused by misguided guilt. Therefore, do not take their rebuttals personally or offensively, but rather focus on a necessary means to an end.

Clare Absher RN BSN

About the Author

Clare Absher is a Registered Nurse with 44 years of experience. Most of her experience is in home health serving as a caregiver, educator, patient advocate, and liaison between families and community resources. She has also worked in acute care, assisted living, and retirement settings. She is passionate about helping families care for their elderly loved ones at home.

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