You love them, but sometimes your elderly parents won’t listen to you, no matter how good your advice is. The fact of the matter is, there will always be a reason for their stubbornness and a way to navigate around it to get what needs to be done accomplished. The challenge here is finding out how to get there!


We’ve dealt with our fair share of stubborn people, and we’ve got a few ideas to help you out.


  1. Have Patience

When your elderly parents won’t listen to you, don’t allow that situation to get you upset. Having patience during the harder to handle conversations is going to be what diffuses the conversation instead of adding fuel to it and allowing it to blow out of proportion.


  1. Give Options

Having a few options to choose from gives them the sense that they are in control of the way things are going, but in reality, all of the choices should lead back to what needs to be done. A quick example of this would be “Do you want to get breakfast before the doctor or after?”


They still don’t want to go to the doctor, but by choosing when to go to breakfast, they’ve made a choice that they feel invested in. Meanwhile, the only outcome that you cared about from the beginning, going to the doctor, has already been accepted by them.

Photo By Shutterstock/3D_creation


The only difference between telling them to go to the doctor and asking them when they want to go is that they are in charge of the decision of something that would have happened either way (breakfast!)


  1. Get Help

If your elderly parents won’t listen to you no matter what you say, it is wise to get someone they will listen to involved early on. If you have a sibling, spouse, or neighbor that has a good rapport with them, get them involved on the bigger issues.


Be sure to make it a laid-back conversation rather than an intervention and your parents should be pretty agreeable.


  1. Ask Questions

Finding out the motivation for their unwillingness to cooperate is important. If you’re able to understand their point of view, then you’ll be able to give them the reassurance they need. The only way you can find those motivations is to ask questions.


What you’ll often find out is that they don’t want to do something because they are afraid, sad, or feel hopeless about the rapid aging of their body and mind. By understanding this, you can relate to them and speak to them in a way that puts these fears at ease instead of causing them to ignite.


  1. Tread Lightly

Less information is sometimes more. When it comes to elderly parents who won’t listen, bogging them down with in-depth details about the day’s activities or why certain things need to happen is a mistake.


Instead, give them the broad strokes of the situation and leave things simple. By leaving things straightforward and easy to understand, they’re much more likely to be okay with something they would typically show a lot of resistance to.


  1. Prioritize The Problems At Hand

You may need to do 5 things today, but make sure to prioritize them because you will inevitably encounter some resistance. If you can accomplish your top 2 or 3 tasks for the day, that’s a huge leg up from where you were before. Try not to dwell on what didn’t get accomplished.


By knocking out the most important to-dos, you are making headway on the larger items. Celebrate that, and you will keep your expectations realistic.


  1. Realize You’re Just One Person

No one can do absolutely everything, and you shouldn’t try to! You may feel like you’re the one doing everything, but do what you can to delegate tasks to other family members or your caretaker.


By splitting things up, you will get more done, and you won’t feel the weight of everything on your shoulders. This is doubly beneficial, and by doing this, you will improve your mood by lowering your daily stress levels.


  1. Don’t Rush

Photo  By Shutterstock/Stokkete


When your elderly parents won’t listen or cooperate, think about how you’re approaching them. If you are in a hurry to get something accomplished, chances are you’re moving too fast for them.


By slowing down, you’ll likely encounter an overall better disposition because you’ll be moving at a physical and mental speed that they can handle. Often, their resistance comes from confusion because you are moving too fast for them to compute.


  1. Discuss Things When They’re More Compliant

Take the times that your parents are more agreeable as opportunities to get the more difficult questions answered. One way that you can do this is to frame a question by using a story of another person.


An example could sound like “Hey did you know that John’s parents paid to have themselves cremated? Isn’t that crazy? You wouldn’t ever do something like that would you?” Telling a story and getting their feedback can better inform you about what they really want.


Again, it is important to do this while they’re in a good mood because if you don’t, you might get the opposite answer out of them just because they’re in a bad mood.


  1. Accept The Situation As It Is!

You can’t win every time, and when you’re dealing with your stubborn parents, this will probably happen a lot. Just allow this to be part of the process. By letting the conversation die out about a controversial topic, you’ll be able to pick it up again at a later date when they are more agreeable, and you’ll ultimately get them to do what needs to be done!


Need Help?

When your elderly parents won’t listen to you, it’s great to have some back-up! If you need some help, give us a call at 714-289-7220, or you can email us here.