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How to Convince our Elderly Parents to go for a Health Check-up?

Image from Straits Times

It is not uncommon for elderly persons to refuse to see a doctor when they are sick, and they may also avoid going for health check-ups.

Some of the reasons you may have heard from them are:

“It is a waste of money”,

“I am feeling fine, there is no need for that”, or

“I don’t want to find out that I have a terminal illness”.

Financial concerns may also be a barrier as many of our elderly parents were raised under harsh conditions which required them to be very thrifty. Lastly, some elderly persons may not understand the importance of going for health check-ups or simply do not wish to find out that they are ill.

So, how can we then convince our elderly parents to go for a health check-up?

Here are 3 reasons you can use to persuade them:

1. It increases your chances of living a long and fulfilling life

While our elderly parents may be concerned about medical expenses, the main reason why we want them to go for health screenings is that early detection of illnesses would mean more treatment options and a higher chance of survival. Do emphasize to your elderly parents that it is not just about living a longer life, but also having a better quality of life. By seeking treatment early, serious complications of illnesses that may lead to a deterioration of one’s quality of life can be prevented.

This means that your elderly parents can continue to do things they enjoy such as travelling, hiking, working or taking care of their grandchildren.

2. In the unlikely event that a terminal illness is diagnosed, you would spend the remaining days wisely

Some of our elderly parents may be afraid to find out that they are terminally ill, and we cannot deny that there is a possibility of this happening. It can be scary to know that one’s life is ending but the upside is that you get a chance for proper closure, and you would spend your remaining days doing things you really want to do. This may include spending time with your loved ones, making a will, eating your favourite food, or simply putting aside work to appreciate nature.

That said, do assure your elderly parents that it is unlikely for them to be diagnosed as terminally ill if they have been feeling reasonably well and have not experienced any physical discomfort.

3. It helps you save money

It is important to let your elderly parents know that going for health check-ups can help them save more money over time, contrary to their belief that it is a waste of money. Health screenings help to detect medical conditions early, thereby allowing treatment or management of the condition to be started before the need for more serious interventions, which are often more expensive.

For example, with early detection of high cholesterol levels, one can control their condition through lifestyle modifications such as changing their diet and exercising more. On the other hand, those who have had a high cholesterol level over a longer period are at higher risk for stroke and heart attack and may have to undergo surgery if these were to happen. The latter scenario would definitely incur a higher expense.


It is important to remain patient when communicating with our elderly parents as deep-rooted beliefs they have may be difficult to change. At the end of the day, the most important message to bring across to your elderly parents is that you care for them, and you want them to live a long and healthy life.

Do you have any experience on convincing elderly parents to go for a health check-up?

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