How to Handle an Elderly Loved One Who Refuses to See a Doctor

It can be frustrating and even downright painful to watch a loved one suffer, especially when they are reluctant to seek a doctor to treat their condition. While we cannot force our loved ones to receive medical treatment, there are ways to support them regardless of their personal choices. Here, the compassionate home care providers at Avila Home Care detail five ways to deal with an elderly loved one who refuses to see a doctor.

Be Honest with Your Loved One

While you may feel that your loved one can drastically benefit from receiving care, they may be hindered by fear or even denial. If you feel it is truly necessary that your loved one receives treatment for their medical condition, such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease or arthritis, be open and honest about your opinions. Without pressuring your loved one, express your concerns with patience and an open mind, while repeatedly telling them how much you love and support them. Your loved one may be more likely to consider getting help if you tell them how much you care.

Try to Listen Without Judgement

Often times, your loved one may refuse medical treatment out of fear or past trauma. Perhaps they have had a terrible experience in the past that has now lead to a fear of doctors or hospitalization. This is a surprisingly common scenario that should not be taken lightly. If your elderly loved one refuses to see a doctor out of fear, cost concerns, denial about their health issue or another reason, offer to listen without judgment. You may be able to offer sound advice to mitigate their fears or bring understanding regarding their situation. While you may not be able to convince your loved one to get help, you might be able to avoid your loved one becoming defensive or agitated.

Encourage Your Loved One to Consider All Options

There is more than one way to seek help for a health problem. If your loved one has a fear of hospitals, perhaps you could encourage them to seek other outlets for obtaining medical care, such as through a private practice. If your loved one is refusing care due to potential costs, bring up insurance options they may have as well as alternative forms of payment that may work in their favor. If they are worried that receiving care will be a burden to their family, reassure them that their medical issues are not at all inconvenient to their loved ones. By providing suggestions that address your loved one’s list of potential roadblocks to receiving care, you can best convince them that their health is worth fighting for.

Avoid Arguing with Your Loved One About the Issue

While you may feel passionate about obtaining the best care possible for your elderly loved one, avoid arguing, raising your voice, threatening or ignoring your loved one due to your frustration. It is understandable to feel anger at the situation, but expressing that anger to your loved one will only make them feel more isolated. Instead, practice grace when handling a complicated situation such as a loved one refusing care.

Remember That Your Loved One is Responsible For Their Own Choices

You cannot force your loved one to make decisions that they do not wish to make. While this may be difficult to accept, the most that you can do is support, care and show empathy during this difficult time. Unless you believe their condition is sincerely life-threatening, and that receiving immediate treatment is vital to saving their life, you cannot make them receive medical help for your loved one if that is not their wish. 

Support Your Loved One With the Help of the Aging in Place Caregivers at Avila Home Care

Your loved one’s untreated medical conditions can impact those who are close to them, especially if you or another family member is responsible for their care. While it can be extraordinarily challenging to help your loved ones see the benefits of medical care that you may see, these tips may best-help you handle a difficult situation. The dedicated aging in place caregivers at Avila Home Care understand the difficulty of your loved one refusing to see a doctor, and can offer quality supportive services to give your loved one the care they need and deserve. To learn more about our services, contact Avila Home Care today.


The aging in place caregivers at Avila Home Care always encourage readers to discuss any health questions or concerns with a qualified healthcare professional.

Some content in this article was sourced from verywellmind and


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