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Do Your Parents Resist Help?

As Americans get ready to visit family and friends over the upcoming holidays, a survey reveals experts’ top tips for overcoming a common and difficult family problem—aging parents resisting the help they need. Experts surveyed by the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) say that emphasizing to aging parents that receiving assistance can help them maintain self-sufficiency and continue living independently is the best strategy.

This release came on the heels of related findings from ALCA (formerly the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers), finding that 80% of care managers reported regularly encountering cases where seniors are resisting needed help or declining assistance from their children or loved ones. ALCA also reported that the three types of help aging life care professionals most often find seniors resisting or declining are: decisions about whether to continue driving (cited by 67% of those surveyed), getting needed home health care (62%), and assistance with household chores like cooking, shopping and cleaning (60%).

Here are the top six tips for overcoming aging parents’ resistance to help, offered by aging life care professionals from around the country:

  1. Emphasize that receiving help can help aging parents maintain their self-sufficiency and allow them to continue to live independently.
  2. Acknowledge their fears/concerns and talk about what might ease their mind.
  3. Be sure to start slow with caregiving, even if you know they need many more hours of help. Prepare the caregiver with your parent’s likes and dislikes and prepare them for possible resistance.
  4. Tell your parents that nothing is written in stone, and that the help they will get is “a trial period.”
  5. Figure out which family member(s) should have the conversation with your parent. Which ones are they most likely to listen to on a matter like this?
  6. If a parent has dementia, it is best to consult with a professional care manager on strategies that might work.

“Getting help is often key to allowing aging loved ones to keep their independence and remain in their own homes,” said ALCA Past-President Emily Saltz. “Acknowledging your parents’ fears and emphasizing that help can keep them independent are good steps to overcome resistance to needed help.”

Source: The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, was formed in 1985 to advance dignified care for older adults and their families in the United States. Aging Life Care Professionals have extensive training and experience working with older adults, people with disabilities, and families who need assistance with caregiving issues. They assist families in the search for a suitable nursing home placement or extended care if the need occurs. The practice of Aging Life Care and the role of care providers have captured a national spotlight, as generations of Baby Boomers age in the United States and abroad. For more information or to access a nationwide directory of Aging Life Care Professionals, please visit

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