As your parents age, regular health care becomes much more important. Aside from the achy joints, cataracts or other physical ailments that can plague seniors, doctor appointments also help screen for cognitive health issues such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. 

But what can you do if your parent refuses to seek medical care? In some cases, there may be a cognitive capacity issue preventing your parent from making appropriate decisions for him or herself. If you have concerns about your parent’s ability to care for her or himself legally or financially, you may want to explore guardianship options. 

On the other hand, you cannot force your parent to go to the doctor if she or he is an adult of sound mind. Here are some tips for assisting your parent with receiving medical care if doctor visits have become a battle of wills: 

  • Explore alternative visit methods. Many primary care physicians with experience in senior care will make house calls for individuals reluctant to travel. If your parent’s distaste for doctor visits relates more to the trip to the office or seeing ill people in the waiting room, house calls may be a good way to keep up with necessary health care appointments. 
  • Try not to use fear as a motivator. While you may foresee tragic consequences when seniors fail to receive appropriate health care, generally, fear-based reasons to visit the doctor will backfire. You are usually better off emphasizing the positive aspects of regular health care than using scare tactics.  
  • Be patient with your parent, and do not take criticism personally. Your parent may be uncharacteristically sharp or angry with you if you bring up health care. Put yourself in your mother or father’s shoes. He or she may be afraid of receiving more bad news about another diagnosis. Your loved one may also see this as the first step toward no longer having freedom and independence.  

Though your parent may not appreciate it, continue to offer easy assistance whenever your mother or father is willing to receive the quality health care that every senior deserves.