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What to do when your parents refuse help

Does your elderly mother live alone? Have you noticed that she seems to be having trouble paying bills? Is her home cluttered? Has she forgotten to take her medications?

You can see that she needs help but every time you bring it up, she either changes the subject, offers a reason for change or states that she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself.

How do you get care for her when she insists she doesn't need it?

Step one: Make her feel empowered. She doesn't like to feel helpless. She probably feels that accepting help will make her feel like she is losing her independence. Let her make the decisions as much as possible.

Make it seem like it is her idea. Say something like, "It looks like you are too busy to pick up your prescriptions. Do you think they could deliver them to your house?"

Try giving her options. Give her choices to help her feel in control. Ask her if she would like someone to come by two or three times a week or if she would like to go to an adult day care one or two times a week.

Step two: Figure out what her issues are. Don't downplay any of her concerns, even if you think they are insignificant. They are real issues to her.

If she is afraid of losing her independence, let her know that a caregiver could drive her around to get groceries or visit friends.

If she's afraid of letting a caregiver into her home, let her know that agencies do background checks on their employees. Have them provide her with references and offer to meet them with her.

Find out the costs of hiring help and figure out a plan together.

Step three: Let her know your concerns. Tell her that you are concerned about her and that having someone check in on her would help ease your mind. Sometimes, a parent will accept help if they see it will lessen the burden on family.

Step four: Bring in the reinforcements. If she still won't accept help and she really needs it, call in the pastor, doctor, friend or neighbor. She might be more willing to accept advice from one of these people rather than a family member.

Call a family meeting. Talk about options as a group. Convincing someone they need help can be really hard. It takes time, sometimes more than one discussion. Be patient.

Continue to provide help in any way that you can and keep your relationship positive. The more she trusts you, the more likely she will be to try out your suggestions.

Contact Mary at (320) 762-3047 for information on services in Douglas County and/or support groups.