My 83-year-old father hasn't seen a doctor for over 30 years! Is it common for an elderly person to refuse medical care?

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It is unusual for an elderly person to have not seen a doctor in 30 years, bit is not unheard of. If your father is in relatively good health and able to care for himself maybe this is not a problem for him. If he is not able to care for himself there are legal remedies to protect him from himself.
It happenes. He may be from a family that did do doctors or couldn't and if he is in good health it wouldn't come up, he is entering an age when it is more touch and go so he may have to change that to stay mobile, level, healthy or it may be his choice to go out as un fiddled with as he came in. Or he may be when you GO to the dr you FIND out bad things so why bother? Good Luck to you with this...It may take some doing....
It is very common for the elderly to refuse medical care. I have worked in Long Term Care for over 27 years. Even the residents in facilities refuse care at times. A elderly person who has not needed to see a doctor in 30 years may fear finding out what is going on with his health now. Many would prefer not to know and therefore not to have to change. Unless he is having difficulties breathing, is losing a lot of weight or demonstrating other medical difficulties he most likely will not willingly go to the doctor now. If there are problems then appeal to his feelings about you instead of about him. Tell him you are concerned for him and it worries you. See if he will go to the doctor to make you feel better knowing he is well. If he is trying to stay in his home and is afraid he will have to go to a Nursing Home or Assisted Living ( I have run both kinds of facilities), let him know there are now Home Health Agencies that can help him at home to stay at home. Mostly you want him to be comfortable and pain free. That is all we can ask as we age. Good luck.
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Congrats that your father is 83 and I'm assuming never needed to go to the doctor! Your dad grew up in an age where when people went to the doctor- or to the hospital, they either got well or they died. If Dad is hardy and well, there is no reason to go to the doctor....why have him sit for hours in a waiting room exposed to sick people? I'd ask Dad what it was like when he last went to the doctor some 30 years ago....and ask him why he prefers not to go.Maybe something happened with him or to another person and he just made up his mind never to go back again. If he is of sound mind you can not force him to go- it's his choice. If he eats well and has a good quality of life why should he go? Some elders believe that aches and pains come from aging and that there is nothing that any doc can do to turn back time. I would ask him though if he has a living will and health care surrogate- if not, it's time to find out what his end of life wishes are. God Bless.
I totally agree with Nataly1 - if the man is 83 and still in good health, staying away from doctors doesn't seem to have hurt him. Unless you are concerned about something in particular about your father's health or the situation in which he lives, Dbaggaley77, I wouldn't worry; instead, maybe try to learn his secret. Has your father also avoided having his teeth and eyes checked? My father avoided dentists (after terrible experiences with one in the 1920's) and, in his later life, I imagine he had some poison seeping into his system from infected teeth but his body seemed to be able to deal with it. (Leukemia is what got him - probably caused by dealing with the chemicals he used for treating grain or spraying his grain crops for weeds. Farmers didn't realize how dangerous those chemicals were when they first came on the market). Anyway, Dbaggaley77, if your dad is happy and seems healthy at the age of 83, I would just keep a watchful eye on him but let him be at present. I don't think you could be considered a "neglectful person" doing that. It is great that you care.
Good for your dad! My great-grandfather died at 95 without ever having seen a doctor, and his 2nd oldest daughter in her late 80s. I rarely go to a doc and am 50. I've been fortunate to have good health. Am I neglectful? Possibly. I have not had children who were depending on me, so I figured it was my call. I try to eat healthy and exercise. Likewise your dad no longer has dependents, so I think it's his call. It would be good to have the "what do I do if you're no longer able to make decisions?" talk with Dad, though. My great-grandpa had told the daughter he lived with not to take him to a doc or hospital, so she abided by that, and he died of pneumonia at home. May your dad have as peaceful a transition as he did.
yes. My father did the same thing. He was of sound mind but refused to go to the doctor for the last 10 years of his life. He knew he had high cholesterol, but he refused to take prescriptions or see a doctor. I pleaded with him to go and even called Adult Protective Services to try to force him to go. They told me there was nothing I could do--that it was his choice. I believe he would have lived longer if he had medical care. He died of a heart attack in 2004. I know it's frustrating and frightening to watch. :(
3seraphim, if your father had gone to a doctor, unless the doctor was very charismatic and your father would listen, it probably wouldn't have made any difference. You would have had to deal with trying to persuade your father to take his meds and do as the doctor said. Your father probably saved you from this frustration by just refusing to see a doctor in the first place. Did your father die relatively young?
My dad was 74 when he died. That may be true that he saved me from further frustration. He always thought he knew more than the doctors. He did not trust them.
3seraphim, it sounds like your dad was best off not seeing doctors. Interesting that he thought he knew more than the doctors. Of course he didn't overall but perhaps he felt he knew his own body better than any doctor could. Do you know why he didn't trust doctors? I have a 63 year old sister who no longer has much faith in doctors either. She has had some bad experiences dealing with different types and now stays away from them probably more than she should. But it's her life. She says it's not been a bad life and she claims to be "ready to go" at any time. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

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