Top Tips for Caring for Someone Who Resists Help

Top Tips for Caring for Someone Who Resists Help

According to the AARP, “Nearly one in five [Americans] is providing unpaid care to an adult with health or functional needs.” (1) Taking care of another human is not an easy task, especially when they resist your help. When trying to juggle other responsibilities on top of your caregiver role, it can be even more stressful. According to Aging Care, “Family caregivers provide an average of 23.7 hours of care each week. This number goes up substantially for those whose care recipients live with them (37.4 hours per week), making caregiving equivalent to a full-time job.” (2)

Fortunately, there are ways to make caring for an aging loved one easier. There are also various techniques you can use to deal with the stress that comes with a family member refusing or resisting assistance. The first step in improving the lives of both you and your loved one is to identify their opposition and the reason behind it.

Common Forms of Resistance to Caregiving

 There are multiple ways your loved one may exhibit resistance, even when help is clearly needed.

1.  Avoiding Friends and Family

If someone is embarrassed about aging or losing independence, he may try to avoid friends and family. This is also a symptom of depression. Those with depression may avoid activities they enjoy as well as people they love in an attempt to mask their unhappiness.

2.  Ignoring Medical Advice

A common way seniors cope with aging is ignoring medical advice. They may associate medicine, diseases, and medical conditions with old age. If they don’t want to feel old, or feel like they don’t need medication, they may refuse to take their medication or follow their doctor’s orders.

Your loved one could be simply forgetting to take his medication as well. If this is the case, an Alert1 Medication Dispenser can help remind him when to take his medication. This device can be programmed for up to four medication reminders per day and the container is tamper-proof.

3.  Resisting to Change Unsafe Practices

There are some tasks that become difficult to perform as we age. Some older adults resist this change by continuing to do these activities. Some common examples include driving, operating dangerous machinery, heavy lifting, and strenuous exercise.

If your loved one refuses to give up habits that could be potentially harmful to them, an on-the-go emergency medical alert for seniors can help you ensure their safety. If they happen to fall, get in a car accident, or have a medical emergency, they can contact Alert1’s Command Center at the push of a button and receive immediate help. A built-in GPS can also ensure that they can get assistance whether they are at home, out running errands, or lost in an unfamiliar location.

4.  Saying Hurtful Things

Some seniors may say hurtful things in an attempt to make their caregiver leave them alone. While this behavior can generally be ignored, it can add stress to the caregiving process.

5.  Acting Out Physically

Another form of resistance involves physically acting out. Some of these actions include:

  • Pulling away
  • Refusing to bear their weight when walking
  • Hitting
  • Tightening limbs and body
  • Waving their arms

5 Reasons for Resistance

If you notice signs of resistance with your loved one, try to pinpoint the main reason why they may be resisting.

1.  They Are Afraid to Lose Independence

One of the main reasons why older adults resist caregiving is because they view it as a sign of getting old. They may also worry about becoming a burden on their loved ones.

If your loved one is concerned about loss of independence, a medical alert pendant for the elderly can help ensure that they have some form of protection, even if you are not around. When they press their button, their emergency alert system will contact a 24/7 Command Center and a certified emergency response agent will determine what type of care they need and get it to them immediately. The agent will stay on the line with your loved one until help arrives.

2.  They Don’t Want to Appear Weak

Few people want to feel like they are weak. If your loved one needs care, they may view their situation as a sign of weakness. If they don’t want to appear frail, they may resist your care.

3.  They Don’t Want to Relinquish Their Privacy

It can be frustrating to have someone constantly watching over you. There are times when people simply want to be left alone. If your caregiving situation involves constant observation, your loved one may be having trouble dealing with a lack of privacy.

4.  They Are Concerned about the Cost of Care

Some older adults are aware of the costs of aging and worry about becoming a burden on their families. In this case, they may be trying to avoid care in an effort to save their caregiver time and money.

5.  They Are Suffering from Memory Loss or Dementia

Memory loss and conditions like dementia can cause behavioral changes. According to, “One US study reported that 9% of 23,837 nursing home residents experiencing dementia demonstrated resistance-to-care behaviors and another US study also reported a similar percentage, i.e. 9.7% of 3,230 residents.” (3)

Caring for elderly persons with dementia can be nerve-wracking as they might wander out of their homes without you knowing. An Alert1 on-the-go medical alert necklace with GPS and fall detection can help provide some peace of mind, as the GPS pinpoints location and the alert provides immediate help whenever needed.

12 Senior Caregiving Tips to Try

Once you understand why your loved one may be resisting your caregiving, you can try our various techniques to resolve these issues.

1.  Start the Arrangement on a Trial Basis

If your loved one is just entering the caregiving process and is already resisting help, try to convince them to give it a chance for a limited amount of time, such as a week or two. If they do not like it, investigate alternative caregiving strategies and aging in place solutions.

2.  Highlight the Positives

A good technique for convincing your loved one to accept being cared for is to highlight the positives. For instance:

  • Accepting the care can save them time and energy during the day.
  • The care will keep them safe.
  • It can be a chance to bond.
  • If your loved one is aging in place, highlight the fact that they can stay in their own home and receive one-on-on support in a familiar place and from a familiar face.

3.  Explain Your Needs and Perspective

Your loved one may not understand your perspective at first. Be honest with them that you are both dealing with changes. Let them know that you are just trying to help them retain as much independence as possible, with a minimum of disruption to their routine. Be sure to choose words carefully, to avoid increasing their resistance.

4.  Let Them Explain Their Perspective

If they listen to your perspective, it is only fair that you listen to their perspective as well. Let them express their fears and concerns. You may even get better insight as to why they are resisting care. Then you can better determine a compromise or solution to make the situation easier for you both.

If you feel that your loved one needs an emergency alert device, but they don’t want to wear one because they are trying to resist feeling older, consider an Alert1 on-the-go Medical Alert Wrist Watch with GPS. Some wearers find this emergency response solution to be more stylish than traditional personal alarm buttons. It offers a weather app and pedometer as well to help your loved one prepare for the day and stay active.

5.  Ask Them What Would Make the Situation Easier

Sometimes it helps to be straightforward. Ask your loved one if there is something that would help them accept their new situation. If they respond with a simple solution, take care of it. If they don’t have an answer, try to come up with a solution on your own. For instance, if they seem to be struggling with lack of privacy, agree to let them be alone for a set amount of time if they promise not to do anything reckless.

6.  Help Them Retain Some Independence

If retaining independence is a concern for your loved one, try to find small ways that they can do so. Allow them to make choices and complete tasks if they are capable. If they have a stigma about aging, try to address it. Let them know that they are not a burden, or weak, or whatever label is causing their unhappiness.

An Alert1 medical alert button with fall detection is a useful tool that can help seniors retain their independence while they age in place.

7.  Find Something to Bond Over to Ease Tension

If you are caregiving for elderly parents, bonding is important to maintain a healthy relationship. If tensions get too high, find a way to ease them before you progress. Find something to bond over. You can watch a movie, go out for dinner, or reminisce with family photos. Show them that you simply want them to be happy and healthy.

8.  Choose Your Battles

At certain times, you may have to learn to choose your battles. Analyze what tasks need to be handled such as eating, bathing, and medication. If something that they are resisting isn’t essential, let it go for a day or two. They may eventually come around. If you need to tell your loved one something that may upset them, try to choose a time when you are both relaxed.

9.  Give Them Space

Another technique you can use when tensions are high is to give your loved one space. Give them time to process and consider information. When you approach them again, you may find that they have changed their mind and attitude about whatever is bothering them.

Depending on your loved one’s needs, giving them space can be difficult. If you want to give them space yet want to know that they can get help if they need it, Alert 1 medical alert technology can help you achieve this goal. They can receive help at the press of a button whenever and wherever it is needed, even if you are not around.

10. Talk to Health Care Providers

If you believe that your loved one is resisting care due to conditions like memory loss or dementia, talk to a doctor to find out if there are any medical treatments that are available to help improve the behavior.

11. Ask for Help

If you feel like you are overwhelmed, ask a friend, another family caregiver, or even a professional caregiver for help. They may be able to offer you some advice or care for your loved one so that you can take a break. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, “On average, caregivers spend:

  • 13 days each month on tasks such as shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and giving medication.
  • 6 days per month on feeding, dressing, grooming, walking, bathing, and assistance toileting.
  • 13 hours per month researching care services or information on disease, coordinating physician visits, or managing financial matters.” (4)

An aging in place specialist for seniors can also be helpful. They can help you find the best solutions for your unique situation.

12. Don’t Give Up

Caregiving for seniors aging in place can be frustrating, but don’t give up. If you try different techniques, you can find ways to make your situation easier for both you and your loved one.

Take Care of Yourself

 There are multiple ways you can try to manage the stresses of caregiving. These techniques can help you avoid caregiver burnout, which is a state of exhaustion both mentally and physically.

Take Some Time for Yourself

Sometimes, all you need is a break. Be sure to arrange some time for yourself so that you can maintain good health. You can ask a friend, family, or professional caregiver to watch your loved one while you take care of your needs. Even if it is just for an hour or two, it can give you a chance to rejuvenate.

Accept Help

Be sure to take help where you can. Make a list of ways that people can help you. Then when they offer to assist you, let them choose what they would like to do. This could include tasks such as:

  • Watching your loved one
  • Buying groceries
  • Running errands
  • Cooking meals
  • Cleaning your home

Every task that gets checked off your to-do list can help ease your stress.

Focus on What You Can Do

Sometimes if you try to take care of every single task for your loved one, it can burn you out, especially when they resist your help. Try to determine what the priorities are and focus on them. Analyze what tasks you can do and what tasks require help.

If you have other responsibilities in your life and are not able to be with your loved one around-the-clock an emergency button alarm for seniors can provide extra protection for your loved one. It will ensure that they will have someone they can contact 24/7/365 if they need help.

Break Large Tasks into Smaller Steps

Certain tasks may seem overwhelming, but if you break them into smaller steps, they can become more manageable. For instance, if you need to clean an entire house, tackle one room at a time. You can even break down rooms into areas. When you can check even one small task off your to-do list, it can help alleviate stress and motivate you to complete another.

Stay Connected to Others

Socializing and staying connected to others is a great way to boost your mood. If your loved one is resisting by saying hurtful things, talking to others with a positive attitude can help offset the negativity.

Support Groups

Support groups are another great way to learn tips and tricks to make caregiving easier. You can find people who have been through the same situations as you and get some encouragement and advice.

Monitor Your Health

Be sure to keep your own health in check. If you feel fatigued, or feel like you are catching something, be sure to get some rest. This will help to ensure that you can be there for your loved one when they need it, as well.

Talk to a Doctor

You may also want to consider talking to a doctor. Explain that you are a caregiver and let them know about any concerns or symptoms you may be experiencing. They may help you find medication or relaxation techniques that will help you ease the stresses of your caregiver routine.

An Alert1 medical alert system may also ease some of your stress by providing peace of mind that help is always just one button-press away, especially during those times when you are unable to be by your loved one’s side.



1 AARP staff. May. 2020. AARP Public Policy Institute. AARP. Caregiving in the United States 2020.

2 Huntsberry-Lett, Ashley. March. 2021. Caregiver Statistics: Facts about Family Caregivers. AgingCare. Caregiver Statistics: Facts about Family Caregivers.

3 Konno, Rie. Kang, Hee Dun. Makimoto, Kiyoko. The Best Evidence for Minimizing Resistance-to-Care During Assisted Personal Care for Older Adults with Dementia in Nursing Homes: a Systematic Review. National Library of Medicine. The Best Evidence for Minimizing Resistance-to-Care During Assisted Personal Care for Older Adults with Dementia in Nursing Homes: a Systematic Review.

4 Family Caregiver Alliance staff. Caregiver Statistics: Demographics. Family Caregiver Alliance. Caregiver Statistics: Demographics.