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Convincing Your Aging Parents to Accept Help

Written by Angelike Gaunt
 about the author
3 minute readLast updated March 30, 2023

Supporting an aging parent can be both rewarding and challenging. But as your loved one gets older, their social, emotional, and medical needs are likely to change — and they may need expert help that family caregivers can’t provide. From home care to assisted living and memory care, there are a wide range of services that can help seniors live their best lives. Talking to a parent about getting help can be difficult, but the conversation can be easier when using the steps outlined below.

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No matter what you’ve accomplished in life, one of the most challenging tasks you may face is persuading a beloved parent or relative to accept help, especially if they’ve always been proud, private, or independent. Here are some tips to make your case when you see that your parents need assistance with housekeeping, cooking, self-care, or other tasks.

Talk it over with your siblings and other family members first

Before you bring up hiring help with Mom or Dad, touch base with your siblings (if you have any) and other family members who are invested in their wellbeing. You may find there are differences of opinion that you all need to sort out first before you talk to your parents. If the family agrees on the type of help your parents need, that’s a strong argument in favor of your point of view. If some of you want different types of help, that gives your parents more than one option to consider.

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

Get your parent’s trusted advisors on board

Let’s face it; you’ll always be your parents’ child. No matter how much they respect your opinion your parents most likely don’t view you as a peer. That’s why many eldercare experts recommend recruiting your parents’ doctor, close friends, or clergy to talk with them about help. Their opinions may carry enough weight to convince your parents to give it a try.

Be patient and keep the conversation going — respectfully

When you see your parents having difficulty with things they used to handle with ease, you may think the need for help is obvious. But we all adjust to changes over time, often without realizing it. Or we may know we need help and hope no one else notices. Either way, consider your parents’ self-image and feelings whenever you bring up the need for care. Remember, too, that the final say is up to them.
Because the decision is theirs, listen to what they have to say on the subject. There may be specific things they’re concerned about. The cost of help, the potential awkwardness of having an unfamiliar person in the home, and the fear of losing autonomy are common worries among older adults. You may be able to find ways to work around these concerns, but first you have to find out what they are.

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Take help one small step at a time

Shepell FGI, a Canadian family assistance program provider, recommends getting reluctant parents on board by starting with one small, relatively inexpensive service. In today’s economy, you’ve got a nearly endless list of options, including grocery delivery, housecleaning, laundry and ironing, in-home tech support visits, errand driving, in-home meal preparation, and yard maintenance. You might convince parents with pets to try a dog walking service or mobile pet grooming. A parent with a pool may be ready to outsource cleaning and maintenance to the pros.
A positive experience with a small service can set the stage for your folks to accept other help more readily as it’s needed. It can also serve as a trial run to show your parents what’s involved in screening, hiring, and managing help in the home, so they’ll feel more experienced and capable when it’s time to make the next help decision.


Meet the Author
Angelike Gaunt

Angelike Gaunt is a content strategist at OurParents. She’s developed health content for consumers and medical professionals at major health care organizations, including Mayo Clinic, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the University of Kansas Health System. She’s passionate about developing accessible content to simplify complex health topics.

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