A recent AARP survey found that 76 percent of adults 50 and older want to live in their home as long as possible. Yet as their physical, functional or cognitive needs mount, some are reluctant to accept the help they need, which can compromise their safety and eventually jeopardize their ability to stay in their home. “In my clinic I frequently see patients where I know they need help at home, they’re really struggling, but they don’t want to have help,” says Dr. Lee Lindquist, chief of geriatrics at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. “There’s a switch that goes off when people reach their 70s or 80s where they don’t want people coming over to help.” After seeing this pattern again and again, Dr. Lindquist began to wonder, Why do older adults resist accepting the help they need? and what can be done to overcome this resistance?
To find out, she and her colleagues held a series of eight focus groups with adults age 65 and older living in and around Chicago and Fort Wayne, Indiana. During the meetings the participants discussed their concerns about remaining in their home as they age and their reasons for being reluctant to accept help there. As the participants discussed their concerns the researchers identified four common themes and then encouraged everyone to brainstorm effective strategies for overcoming their reluctance. The findings were published in the August 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.