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By Courage Homecare on May 27, 2024

How to talk to your aging parents about elder care: A step-by-step guide for navigating this conversation

You may be driving your parent to all their errands and appointments, or maybe you’ve discovered that they now need help going to the bathroom. The person who raised you is not the parent you remember. Did you remember to remind Mom to take her medication?  

No one prepares us for the role reversal where you now have to be the adult and help your parent see that they need some extra support at home. 

This may already be your reality, and it’s a delicate and challenging place for any daughter or son to be. While you know that home care services can greatly improve your parent's quality of life and ensure their safety and well-being, initiating this conversation may feel daunting. 

With empathy, patience, and careful planning, you can approach this discussion in a way that respects your parents' autonomy and addresses their needs effectively. Try to develop an ongoing and casual conversation that helps them clear up any of their fears or concerns about accepting help.  Patience and persistence will both be key.

The risks of doing it all yourself: 

Talking to your loved ones about getting help at home is crucial for several reasons, one being that taking on the role of sole caregiver exposes both you and your loved one to risks.

If you transition into the role of a full-time family caregiver, maintaining your parent-child relationship with your loved one becomes harder. Tasks like cleaning and yard work take priority over spending quality time with Mom or Dad.

Family caregiving can also have consequences on the health and well-being of the caregiver. According to the National Center on Caregiving, “many caregivers are unprepared for their responsibilities and often provide care without adequate support... over one-third of caregivers continue to provide intense care to others while suffering from poor health themselves.”

 When family caregivers experience physical and emotional burnout, it can inadvertently impact the quality of care provided to their loved ones. When you aren’t able to take care of yourself you will not be able to provide the best care to your loved one. 

With reliable assistance, a family caregiver can avoid experiencing pain, depression, and burnout, leading to better outcomes for the aging loved one, too.  Initiating an open conversation about obtaining assistance early on is essential.

How to broach the conversation:

It’s helpful to start this conversation about support at home before it’s needed, it usually becomes more challenging the longer you wait. And because this conversation requires patience, you don’t want to rush it or initiate the conversation during a time of crisis. 

When diving into the conversation, make sure to listen and understand your parent's perspective. They may have fears, anxieties, or misconceptions about home care services. Common concerns include loss of independence, invasion of privacy, or discomfort with having a stranger in their home. By empathizing with their feelings and actually listening to and acknowledging their concerns, you can lay the foundation for an open and honest dialogue. When talking with your parents about home care, understanding their worries will help bring their defensiveness down. 


Trying Care Out

For your loved one, accepting care at home can feel like a loss of independence and can be a hard reality to accept. Try to focus on getting your parent to try out having a home caregiver for at least a month. That’s often enough time to feel the difference that home support can make in day-to-day life. 

Read through these sample conversation starters that share strategies to suggest that your loved one gives elder care services a try. Each scenario shows how opportunities to start talking and take action can show up. Before starting these conversations, have a friend, spouse, or family member in the loop so they can support the plan.

SCENARIO: You noticed your parent isn’t eating.

SAY: I can’t stay and cook tonight because [reason], but what if we get a home assistant to help with cooking a few nights a week? Then you won’t have to worry about making dinner, and the family will feel good knowing someone's with you to help you out in the kitchen. You can tell them what you'd like to eat, and you’ll be in total control. Let's try it and talk about it afterward to see if it’s an arrangement you’d like.

SCENARIO: Your loved one forgets to take his/her medicine repeatedly. (Make sure to alert their doctor ASAP, in addition to initiating a conversation)

SAY: I’m worried you’re going to forget to take your medicine again. I spoke with your doctor and they’re concerned about missing doses. They suggested we find a way to prevent it from happening. I was thinking a personal care assistant would be really helpful. What about trying that and seeing how you like it? Like a trial run to see if it’s worth it.

SCENARIO: Your loved one is struggling to get dressed, maybe they fell or misbuttoned their shirt. It’s clear now that they need help getting ready for the day. 

SAY: I’ve noticed you’re [observation: wearing the same shirt] again. What if we got you an assistant for the mornings? Someone who can stop by and help get you ready for the day? They could even do a load of laundry or two, it’s on your terms what they do. Wouldn’t it be nice to know there’s one less thing you have to do. Can we give it a try?

SCENARIO: You notice a lot of dirty dishes in the sink or that dishes have been broken due to unexplained accidents.  

SAY: Let me help you with the dishes, I know you like to keep your place nice and clean. What if we look into a personal care assistant to help you with your dishes and tidying? You can manage and teach them how you like to keep your place and take that work off your plate. I would feel good knowing that someone is taking care of that for you, what do you think? 

As time passes, the needs and dependency of your loved one will grow and the transition can be more difficult to make. Warming them up to the idea of home care early, while your parent is still in control and can build a relationship with the caregiver, will make this transition easier. 

Our home care team at Courage Homecare Cooperative knows how challenging these transitions are and we are ready to partner with you. Call us if you’re interested in exploring home care options in Los Angeles. 

caregivers deserve respect

Published by Courage Homecare May 27, 2024
Courage Homecare