When Your Loved One Refuses Help

Most people would rather help someone else than receive help themselves. Here’s a list of suggestions to keep in mind if your loved one refuses your help.

  • Remember that change is difficult, for everyone.
  • Introduce changes slowly. Give him time to accept the idea. Admitting you need help is an admission that you are losing your abilities. Denial is the great protector.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Often if you wait 15 minutes and try again, your help will be accepted.
  • Assure the person that he has a say in decisions about his care. You wouldn’t like someone else to make all your decisions without consulting you.
  • Offer a trial period. He may be willing to try a home health aide for two months, especially if he knows he could change his mind later.
  • Sometimes people are more willing to accept in-home help if it is presented as being for the caregiver, for instance someone to help you keep the house clean or do the heavy work.

Remember, the person has the right to refuse help. You must weigh your responsibility as a family member or friend with the person’s right to make his own decisions.

In extreme cases where a person is at serious risk and he refuses any attempts at help, seeking legal advice regarding a guardianship may be a last resort.

Originally written and published by the Aging and Adult Services Administration Department of Social and Health Services, State of Washington. Reprinted with permission.

© Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

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