Posted by Rachel Bashford

Top Tips: Help Reluctant Seniors To Accept Support


This article will give you a whole range of tips to:

  • Help you understand how your loved one is feeling.
  • Encourage older people to realise support can be positive.
  • Deliver real solutions that resolve tension and smooth the care path.

Why Do Some Older People Reject Support?

According to the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) by the Centre for Ageing Better, there are around 5.9 million people over the age of 65 in the UK who have needs, such as ill health, that require some type of care or support.

An important aspect that stands out from the report is that needs increase with age; many older people tend to develop more than one need over time. These could be based around several areas including personal care, social isolation or poor housing

Source: Age UK

It would be easy to say that just because someone needs support, they will readily agree to it from the outset. That may not be the case for a proportion of older people, who are used to managing their own lives and enjoy independence.

Accepting help with care may not be easy for some; however, many people can learn to accept it if they feel it’s right for them. Nevertheless, it can be tricky to convince some seniors they have reached the time in their lives when a care path would be beneficial.

Why are some older people reluctant to allow support into their lives? There are many reasons for this hesitancy.

Ageing Stigma

Quite a few people feel there is a stigma attached to ageing and find the process challenging, as it may be associated with dependency, forgetfulness, diseases common in old age or a lack of productivity.

Feeling Young Inside

Others may believe they are not old enough for care packages since they still feel young inside. It can be tough to admit that you are ageing and don’t perhaps have the strength and dexterity to complete personal care tasks as you once did.

Scared About Independence Loss

In this video from Age UK, older people open up about their worries about extra help and keeping their independence if they can. Some over-65s feel that if they want to continue living in their own home, then more support can help them achieve this.

Source: Age UK

Proving Themselves

There are a proportion of older people who will argue that they are more than capable. There may be some arguments to persuade family members that they can look after themselves, or events where a senior may take on a big job to prove they can succeed.


Friends or family may find themselves being left out of the loop in regard to medical, health or financial appointments. If an older person wants to keep control over their affairs, they may not share information with others.


If you’re concerned about an older person going out alone or driving, they may say they have stopped to allay your worries. It may not be the case that things have come to a halt so an honest conversation, albeit gruelling, could help resolve differences in opinion.

Encouraging Your Loved One To Accept Care

Understanding how your loved one is feeling about extra support is essential in enabling forward steps in this area. Opening the channels of communication and talking things through, no matter how difficult, can begin the process to more acceptance of personal care.

But, where do you start? Sometimes taking a step back and assessing the situation can be helpful and provide valuable insight into what is going on with your loved one.

Assess The Situation

Over a period of time, such as a week or even a few days – whatever time you have – monitor what your older person can do. What tasks can they do easily? Which do they avoid completely?

Knowing what the person is capable of by themselves will enable you to talk to them positively about their skills so that you can weave in the benefits of extra support.

It probably won’t be a surprise that any activity they find tough or impossible won’t be attempted with someone else around. There may be tasks an older person may struggle a little with; but after some support, they can perform these much more easily.

Make A List

Once you have an idea of what level of support is required, writing a summary or list can be helpful for any care or support provider you decide to involve. It will also be useful in communicating your loved one’s needs to service providers as you seek the correct one to ensure you have found the right source of care.


Care Needs Assessment

When you and your loved one is ready, you can apply for a needs assessment from your local council and the NHS, if you think this is the right time for more support. This is a vital assessment if you feel carers are required or alterations to your loved one’s home are necessary.

Talk Up The Benefits

Carefully phrasing your words when you talk to your loved one about introducing care is vital in securing a desirable outcome. Choose a time when your senior is relaxed and enjoying a conversation, so that they are more likely to talk things through with you. It’s probably going to take a few conversations to move things forward.

Beginning with all the things they can do well themselves, then moving on to tasks they may want some support with can be a good idea. They may be able to see that there are some parts of personal care they can’t do efficiently anymore. Presenting extra support as a major benefit to staying independent could be the answer.

Be Inclusive

If your over-65 feels as if they are a part of the conversation, that they have some control over what type of care they receive and who provides that care, then this will help them feel they are responsible for decision-making in some part. Involving them in the search for the best carer or care plan could result in a smoother transition process for everyone.

In this short video from the BBC, 78-year-old Terrence explains how support has transformed his life for the better. It can be hard for people to take the step to change their way of life; Terrence’s story reveals how something small can create vast improvements in lifestyle quality.


Top Tactics To Help Reluctant Seniors

Introduce Care Gradually

Suggest ‘get to know you’ meetings to begin with. Perhaps a casual visit for a cup of tea and a chat could be a real ice-breaker. Many care companies and carers are happy to start the process slowly so the older person requiring care feels comfortable and reassured they know the people who will be caring for them.

Trial Periods

Try implementing a trial run so that everyone can ‘feel’ their way into the care plan. Tweaking any issues early on can potentially ensure a smoother care process to be built on and strengthened over time.

Ask Your Loved Ones About Their Preferences

Perhaps you are looking at a number of carers, care companies or support providers. Empowering your loved one to express how they feel about the people and companies involved can change their perception of the process.

If they believe they have had real input when selecting carers then there is a much stronger chance they will accept care into their life.

Enlist Professional Help

If there are a few bumps in the road when trying to persuade the person needing help to accept this, then try to find a professional – from the NHS or an independent source – who can be a neutral, expert voice in the conversation.

You may find that you’re saying the same things over and over again. Listening to a new, professional opinion can be refreshing for your loved one and can give them a reason to say yes to more care.

Exhibit Empathy

Showing you understand and are willing to listen to an older person’s concerns may help them to be more open to listening to your perspective.

If nothing else, knowing that someone respects their point of view and is able to give it time, energy and space can develop a more amenable and communicative atmosphere.

This may, given a bit of time, convince your loved one that everyone has their best interests at heart and that it is time to take the next step along the support path.

What Is The Best Way To Research Information About Care And Support In Retirement?

Growing numbers of people are turning to Autumna for support and information when they want to find out more about retirement options. Older people and their families are searching for reliable advice about what to look for and how to secure the best possible future retirement home, home care, live-in care service or care home.

Starting an internet search without really knowing what to look for can be tricky. But, as users quickly discover, the simple search tools on Autumna help people to rapidly find what they are looking for. 

Let Autumna help you. Complete this short form to let us know exactly what type of care is important to you, and we’ll send you a free shortlist of providers who can help.

Alternatively email us here: or call our Advice Line on 01892 335 330. Our phone line is open seven days a week. (8:30am - 5:30pm Mon-Fri, 10am - 5pm Sat, 10am - 4pm Sun).

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