What do I do when it’s hard for a loved one to accept the need for a carer

Helpd.co.uk is a Provider of Live-In Care Across the UK

‘I’m fine! I don’t need any help!’  Why some people may find it hard to accept or ask for help and how you can address this.

It can be very difficult to watch a loved one struggle with difficulties that you know could be reduced with a little help or with a little domiciliary care.  This can be particularly frustrating if they dislike talking about their difficulties, or plainly refuse to do so.  Any attempts to bring things into the open may be met with an irritable response or arguments that we would sooner avoid.  For family members, this can be very stressful, particularly if you feel the person is at risk in some way, or you are just trying to keep them safe, to prevent an accident or a fall for example.  In the first place, it may help to try to understand why they dislike or are unable to engage in a fuller conversation about their situation with you.  There may be several reasons:

  • The person may not know, or be fully aware of their difficulties. Depending on their ‘cognitive’ or thinking abilities, a person may not be fully aware of the presence of difficulty.  They may not be remembering instances when they have struggled or their struggles may be masked by a helpful well-meaning loved one.  They may not be remembering your discussions with them about their struggles or they may not be fully processing what was said.  They may also acknowledge their difficulties but fail to reason through how this might leave them vulnerable.


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  • They may be ‘in denial’ about the whole thing. For example, they may find it too painful or anxiety-provoking to even consider that things are changing or that they may require a carer or care assistant.  It might feel better to simply avoid thinking about this altogether.  There may be a strong sense of embarrassment or shame about their difficulties, particularly if they have valued being independent most of their lives.  In their lives, they may have been unfamiliar with (or even have strongly disliked) receiving care and they may perceive care from others in a rather negative way (such as feeling that their privacy is being invaded).


  • It is possible that the person may also feel patronised by the discussion, particularly if they are older than you, or previously responsible for you or others.


  • Older people may dismiss their difficulties as just an inevitable part of ‘getting older’, rather than seeing them as something they can do something about. Or they may feel guilty in asking for help and not want to be a burden on their loved ones.  They may also be worried about the reactions of others:  people may have all sorts of fears – such as being ‘carted away’ or disregarded by others as ‘on the scrap heap’.  After all, it was not all that long ago that people were ‘sent to the madhouse’ for problems like dementia.

So how can this be managed or approached?

Overall, it is going to be useful to try to adopt a patient, gentle, non-confrontational approach to this.  Here are some potentially helpful things to bear in mind:


  • Safety will need to be thought about initially, and doing what you can to keep the person safe and prevent accidents is likely to be a priority (e.g. picking your battles!). This might mean aiming simply to set up aids around the house that need not make the person feel patronised. For example, handrails in the bath or by steps, or a ‘falls-alarm’ system such as a pendant that alerts help if it detects a fall.  Or arranging for friends and neighbours to check in at regular times.


  • If you believe that cognitive (e.g. memory or thinking) difficulties are impacting on your conversation with them about difficulties:
    • Be patient and reduce the overall pace of conversations: talk at a slower or more ‘relaxed’ pace and be prepared to deviate during conversations and to repeat things – but be mindful not to infantilise or belittle
    • Provide written information or leaflets about the problem or what care might be like
    • Be mindful that a lack of awareness can simply be how things are and that this can fluctuate over time or as problems persist. It might be more useful to leave a topic and return to it after some time rather than trying to be successful at one attempt


  • Try to ask directly why they might not like the idea of extra help with things or what they might be concerned about. Try to listen and validate their concerns, rather than quickly ‘jumping in’ with solutions.  Suggest options and help with thinking through the pros and cons perhaps.  Give them the choice and control over decisions.  It might also be useful to emphasise that setting up care at home will be for your peace of mind, or simply to keep the person company.  Try to avoid getting into ‘confrontational’ discussions that may only serve to put you in opposition to your loved one


  • Finally, it might be useful to talk to someone else about your concerns. This could be with a friend or with the home care company to get some advice.  Or it might help to talk with friends simply to vent and to help manage the understandable stresses involved in trying to help a loved one.


  • You might find that introducing a carer for only a few hours per week to do some basic tasks such as cooking, cleaning and ironing to begin with is the ideal way for your loved one to get used to the idea of accepting domiciliary care or a care worker in their home. If you decide that you would like to hire your own carers instead of going direct to a more expensive care agency, using Helpd will help you to find a carer in Reading or Nottingham quickly and easily.   It is also a hassle free way for you to gradually get to know what type of care worker best suits the needs of your loved one.


If you liked this post why not read:

5 Things to Think About When You Hire a Live-in Carer