Many of us struggle to accept help when it is needed. The reasons can vary. We may not want to accept that we need help, or we may not think anyone can do what needs to be done just as we would do it. We may not want to feel like we are a burden on someone else, or we may not want what feels like an intrusion into our life or home. These same reasons often come up when approaching a loved one about the need for home care.

You may have noticed that your parents (or parent) are not keeping up with life as they once did. They may be missing appointments, letting bills pile up, forgetting to pick up prescriptions, or having a harder time getting around. Maybe you have noticed that one parent seems to be losing weight or is perpetually exhausted from care he or she is providing for a spouse. You feel your parents could use some extra help, but they are not receptive. What can you do?

1. Know that this is not an unusual response.

2. Find ways to empower your loved ones.
They may be worried that accepting help means giving up their independence. Discuss how the extra help can allow them to focus energy on those tasks they most want to do while a caregiver handles other necessary tasks.

Problem –Solve Together: Instead of approaching them with your idea or decision, discuss the concerns you have and see what solutions they may have considered or you can come up with together. They are more likely to embrace a solution they came up with rather than one they felt was thrust upon them.

Come Up With Options: Choices help us feel more in control. We are generally happier with something we felt was “the best option” rather than “my only option.” Start with the problem. Brainstorm multiple options. Discuss pros and cons for each option.

Hear Their Underlying Concerns: You won’t know best how to proceed if you don’t understand the reason your loved ones are resisting care. Ask open-ended questions. Be respectful of their concerns and communicate to them that you understand their concerns.

3. Express Your Love and Concern.
We have had clients who were resistant to care until their family members shared how much it would mean to them for their loved one to have extra help. For example, a family caregiver who wanted to go out of town for a week told her husband, “Please do this for me. I will better enjoy my time away if I know someone is checking in on you and will be there if you need something.” Other out-of-town family members have shared with a loved one how their acceptance of care would give them peace of mind. Sometimes, a person who is resistant to care for themselves will accept it if they see how it could lessen the burden on their family and friends.

4. Give it a Trial Period.
In some situations, the need may only be temporary. For example, following a hospitalization, injury or illness, extra assistance may only be needed until your loved one recovers and regains his or her strength. In these cases, you may be able to encourage them to use it just until they get back on their feet or set a specific length of time to try care before reevaluating the need. If you feel the need for help is more long-term, you can still suggest giving it a try for a limited time. Two weeks to a month is a good amount of time to get past the newness of welcoming someone into your home and give your loved one some time to get to know the caregiver or caregivers. You could say something like, let’s give this a try for a month and then we can discuss how it is working.

5. Give it Some Time.
If your loved ones continue to be resistant, they may need some time to think it through before revisiting the conversation. Encourage them to talk to people who have used the different options you’ve discussed.

6. "We’re in This Together!"
The need for care often comes with a lot of emotions such as grief about a diagnosis or from witnessing a loved one decline, anger from misunderstandings or differing opinions, and burnout and frustration from the physical and emotional toll. While this may be one of the most difficult tips, it is also one of the most important for the success of whatever care solution is chosen. Do everything you can to keep the conversations around the need for care calm and positive with an emphasis on working together to find a solution.

This means choosing when to have these conversations. When will you both be well-rested and at your emotional best? When will you have the patience to really hear their concerns? This is tough, because conversations like these are often most on our mind when something has happened that scares us, angers us, or frustrates us. This is not the time to have a conversation. Wait until you can circle back to what happened without being in the heat of the moment. You are then in a better place to discuss what happened, how it made you feel, and why you are concerned without the distraction of the emotions involved.

7. Start Early!
Because it can take time for someone to get used to a new idea, it is good to have these conversations even before extra help is needed. We have already begun discussions with our own parents who are in good health to see what their thoughts are about care when it is needed. Would they like to remain in their own home? Would they like to move in with one of their kids or at least closer to one of their kids? Would they like to live in an Independent Living or Assisted Living facility?

When the need for extra assistance is more urgent, such as a loved one who is falling or whose health is quickly declining, you may not have the option of starting conversations early or giving them time to think it through. In these situations, you may need to bring in others (other family members, friends, or professionals) to share their concern. Consider what family members your loved one has the most respect for and is most likely to listen to.

It is also sometimes helpful for your loved one to meet people related to the options being discussed. Encourage them to visit a facility or meet with a representative from a home care company or meet with a caregiver. This can move the option from a vague concept to a service provided by real people who care about caring for people.