How to speak with a loved one who refuses help

Social isolation among seniors, especially seniors with mobility issues, is becoming an emerging health issue in Canada and the United States.

We live in a highly mobile society and seniors who find themselves secluded from friends and family due to many factors including such life events as the loss of a spouse or ill health or mobility issues are at risk of increased depression and isolation.

The link between isolation and well-being is becoming better known within the healthcare profession. In an investigative study by the Children’s, Women’s and Seniors Health Branch of the British Columbia Ministry of Health issued in 2004 it said that seniors over the age of 65 value relationships with family and friends second only to health as the most important areas of their life.

Introducing the idea of using a device to improve mobility may be resisted at first but often once the benefits of increased mobility and an awareness of the issues associated with isolation are discussed there can be a shift in willingness to introduce some new ways of increasing mobility and making life easier.

Here are some suggestions to help talk to your loved one about mobility devices:

  • Discuss the benefits in real terms: for example, explain the distances a scooter can take you and the time it can save and how it can help with practical chores like going to the store
  • Highlight how these devices are designed to make them more, not less, independent
  • Try renting a scooter or walker for a short period of time so they can try different models and devices and see what is right for their needs and preferences