What can I do if my parent refuses to receive medical treatment?

3 answers | Last updated: Nov 10, 2016
Marknascar asked...

My Mother is 72 and refusing medical treatment. Six weeks ago she was admitted to the hospital for tests.She is has COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and refused every test they tried to give her. The doctor put her on Lasix and potassium. Her stomach had gotten very big and the doctor said it was water. While she was in the hospital her stomach went down a lot. After two days she refused any more treatment and left the hospital. She had these really big sores before she went in the hospital and they got worse after she left. I have spent over $200 dollars in the past month for bandages and supplies for her. The doctor sent her to the wound care clinic and after the first treatment ask her to be admitted to the wound care hospital. She went in on Friday and was supposed to stay three weeks. After one day she signed herself out. Now she doesn't have an inch on her body that doesn't have a sore. She refuses to go back to the doctor now. They did find out that she has congestive heart failure. I am begging her to go to the ER and she won't. Is there any thing I can do to make her go? I'm at my wits' end. Thank you very much.

Expert Answers

Dan Tobin, M.D. is the CEO of Care Support of America, a national service providing telephonic and local nurse counsel to adult children caring for aging parents. Dr. Tobin is the author of books and articles focused on the practical and positive aspects of family caregiving.


It is a difficult situation when a parents refuses medical treatment . It will be helpful to try and get someone that your Mom trusts to evaluate the situation and see if she is competant. How is her mental status?  Will she allow "Certified Home Care" to visit her. If she will , Medicare covers those services and her doctor will be willing to request it.

Most of all, try and get a handle on this difficult situation by getting her nursing or medical care in the home if possible.

Step one will be to contact her doctor and ask for advice. Then be sure to get support for yourself and the stress. Try and find a way to get Mom to see the importance of basic treatments. You need to get local ,credible and individual advice to solve a very difficult situation.

Take care,

Dan Tobin

Community Answers

Marknascar answered...

Thank you for your quick response.My mom's Dr. has released her from her care.So now she don't have a Dr. at all.I can't get her to a Dr.I have thought about calling adult protective services but I don't know if they can do anything.Thanks Alot,Lori

A fellow caregiver answered...

we are having the same situation here with my sister. her heart is congested. she is refusing care. they want to put her in a nursing home because we cant take care of her the way she is. bed ridden. WE AS A FAMILY HAS TRIED TO HELP. MY BROTHER IS COMING TO TALK TO HER. IF THIS DOES NOT WORK THEN WE WILL ASK HER WHERE SHE WANTS TO BE BURIED. AND THATS IT. I AM NOT GOING TO BEAT MYSELF UP WITH SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO KILL THEMSELVES. you tried and she does not want your help. I know it is your mother. blood is thicker than water. in other words, like it or not and for what ever reason your mom is very important in your life. she brought you into the world. when I buried mom 4 years ago, I came apart at the grave. my brother and I buried her. but that's life. you live and you die. only faith in god keeps hope for ones gone in death. god bless you in your endeavor