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The Other 4-Letter Word: How to Offer “Help” to Someone Not Ready to Accept It

Have you ever found it hard to ask for help? You aren’t alone.

Unfortunately, some people deny help even when they need it. Some are so against receiving help that they view it as a four-letter word. They refuse to ask for help, and brush it aside when offered to them, even if their health/life depends on it.

What can you do if a person you love needs help but won’t accept it?

First, take some time to understand why they are so against assistance. Try to look at things from their perspective. Then, you’ll be able to broach the subject in a way that honors them and their feelings. You might even get them to say yes to your offer.

Why Some People Think “Help” Is a 4-Letter Word

Many people have a hard time asking for assistance. CNBC points to some reasons for this, which include the following:

  • Feeling out of control
  • Fear of losing their independence
  • Fear of looking weak or vulnerable
  • Fear of being considered a “charity case”
  • Ashamed of appearing too needy or incompetent
  • Fear they’ll be shamed or rejected for asking for (or accepting) help
  • Feeling (or made to feel) like they don’t deserve others’ help

The interesting thing is that people are more willing to help than we might think. In fact, Stanford social psychologist Xuan Zhao has found in her research that people really want to help others. Especially those they love.

How to Offer Help to People Who Aren’t Ready to Accept It

1. Talk to Them from a Place of Compassion

Some people reject assistance when they feel someone is being too pushy. They might feel like someone is trying to run their life for them—and who wants that?

If you’ve been rebuffed when you’ve offered to help, try approaching the situation from another perspective. Put yourself in your loved one’s shoes. You know their personality. Now, ask yourself:

  • How are they feeling about their situation (weak, out of control, etc.)?
  • What are the possible reasons why they would reject help?
  • Is it the idea of help itself or the type of help offered that they don’t like?

The more you can get inside their head, the better. Then, you can schedule another time to talk and start the conversation from a place of compassion and understanding.

2. Do Your Research

It’s not enough to know the person you’re trying to help. Learn as much as you can about what they’re going through. Chronic health conditions, dementia, and other health issues can make people feel powerless. No one wants to appear weak.

Doing your research on their condition can help you in two ways.

First, you’ll have compassion for what they’re enduring and how their life is changing.

Second, you can ask if they need help with particular things in their life. Sometimes, when people are told they need help, they think someone wants to run their whole life. But when you know what they’re going through, you can ask:

  • Can I help with your laundry?
  • Do you need a ride to the store?
  • I know your hands hurt from arthritis. Can I help you write letters to your loved ones?
  • Can I bring you a meal this week?

3. Be Patient and Keep Showing Up

This isn’t to say you should keep bombarding the person with offers of help. They’ll respond when they’re ready (or when a doctor tells them they need help).

But by showing an interest in them and helping in little ways, they might eventually be open to more assistance.

It isn’t easy, but patience is necessary to ensure they’re open to the idea in the future.

4. Take Time to Listen

According to the National Library of Medicine, active listening doesn’t come naturally to us. However, it’s essential to communicate effectively.

One thing elderly adults don’t appreciate is someone who talks over them. Someone who thinks they know better than they do—someone who, in essence, treats them like a child.

While this isn’t your intention, it’s easy to come across that way if we don’t have active listening skills. The British Heart Foundation recommends:

  • Looking directly at the person when they’re speaking
  • Make eye contact with them
  • Look for non-verbal cues (facial expressions, gestures, body language, posture)
  • Avoid interrupting them
  • Listen without judgement
  • Avoid assumptions or jumping to conclusions
  • Try to avoid planning what to say next
  • Show you’re listening
  • Don’t offer solutions unless you ask first
  • Don’t offer solutions if they don’t want any (sometimes people just like to vent)
  • Avoid imposing your opinions
  • Stay focused on the person and what they’re saying
  • Ask relevant questions

Don’t just exercise active listening when you’re offering your help. Do your best to practice it whenever you talk to this person. Doing so can help them have confidence that you’re interested in them and have their best interests at heart.

5. Find Resources for Them

Perhaps your loved one is more likely to accept help from a stranger or professional. They can feel more comfortable with this prospect because:

Are You Ready to Lend a Helping Hand?

Do you love helping others? If so, you might be a great caregiver.

Homewatch CareGivers is looking for people who care about those in their community. We are committed to providing the very best care to:

  • Seniors
  • Elderly adults
  • People who need care after surgery
  • People with chronic health conditions

If you’re passionate about providing a helping hand to those that need assistance, we’d love to meet you. We are constantly looking for driven, compassionate, hard-working individuals who share our values.

Would you like to learn more about becoming a caregiver? Call Homewatch CareGivers at 888-404-5191 to schedule an interview.

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