How To Get Your Elderly Parent to Listen to You

By 9  am On


As children, your parents always wanted you to listen to them and follow their advice. Now that the roles are reversed and you are a family caregiver to your elderly parent, they may not be heeding your advice either. It’s difficult to manage someone’s grooming, hygiene, meals, safety and medication when they simply don’t listen to you. It’s not unusual for elderly parents to ignore the advice or instructions of their adult children. However, there are some techniques you can use that might help with communication between you.

Here are 5 things you can do to try to get your elderly parent to listen to you.

1. Pick Your Battles

Elderly parents that are constantly told they are wrong or that their decisions are bad will quickly become defensive. If they feel they are being “picked on” all the time, then when legitimate advice or instructions come along, seniors build up walls to protect themselves emotionally. Without an open mind, communication efforts will be met with resistance. You should let your parent be right as often as possible, even if they aren’t, for minor things. That way, when you bring something up, it has legitimacy and they won’t be resistant right away.

2. Identify What They May Be Losing

When an elderly parent refuses help, it’s easy for adult children to just grow frustrated and argue. However, if you can think about the deeper issues to what you are asking, you may gain some insight into your elderly parent’s thinking process. Some seniors are reluctant to make changes because it signals the end of their independence or it will make them nervous to have a stranger as a home care aide. Figuring out the obstacle to the request can help you both address it and overcome it.

3. Treat Them Like Adults, Not Children

Aging parents and adult children often find themselves in a strange dynamic when roles are reversed. It’s easy for family caregivers to treat an elderly person like a stubborn child or teenager instead of the autonomous adult that they are. If communication seems to be stalling, take a step back and evaluate the power struggle at work here. You may discover that you are using commands instead of requests and resorting to communication techniques more appropriate for your kids than for your parent.

4. Bring In Another Trusted Adult

Sometimes elderly parents simply won’t take your word for something, from health and safety issues to financial or other matters. Getting an expert opinion from a doctor, financial planner, therapist, clergy, family friend or someone similar may sway them to make the changes necessary. Of course, your elderly parent should not feel ganged up on. Instead, it should come across as well-meaning expert advice from a trusted source.

5. Find Ways to Empower Them

Growing older becomes very disempowering for a lot of adults. Adult children need to show that they are their parent’s ally, not their enemy. Giving elderly parents a choice in the issue and working together toward a solution preserves their feelings of independence and control. They need to feel as self-sufficient as possible within reason.


If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Middleburg, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.