Here’s something you need to consider, first and foremost: most older people do not see themselves as they are. That’s true for all of us! In our mind’s eye, we’re still tripping about like giddy 20 somethings. We none of us see ourselves as others see us.
Keep that perception in mind when it comes to discussing the need for home care, with a loved one, because their first reaction might be pretty negative, thanks to this mind’s eye of theirs! Even following an accident, injury or illness, they might not be immediately open to the idea of having someone come into their home to assist them. The issue needs to be approached with care.
However, assuming that you’ve seen a need for your loved one to have in-home care or assistance, it’s best not to delay on having the conversation. Finding the right home care provider, whether that involves more intensive home nursing or overnight care related to dementia, or simpler care like homemaking and senior companionship, takes time. You want your loved one to be comfortable with the person that is coming into their home, both the idea of them and the reality.
Here are some other tips for starting a conversation about home care:
Don’t wait until it’s too late
You don’t want to wait to have a conversation about home care until your loved one is in fact injured or ill, if you can help it. In the same way that many families have discussions about end-of life plans, it’s important to discuss options for home care, should the need arise. Knowing and understanding the wishes of your loved one is important. Find out what is important to them, in terms of the type of care available.
Do choose your timing wisely
While you don’t want to wait until there is a problem, when it comes to starting this discussion, you do want to choose your timing wisely. When your loved one is already stressed about something else, or isn’t feeling well, isn’t the time. And just because the whole family is together at the holiday’s doesn’t make it the right time to bring up the subject over turkey and cranberry sauce.
Choose a quiet moment, when your loved one is feeling relatively positive, and when you have plenty of time to sit and really hear their opinions and concerns. Hearing someone and listening to them are two very different skills: you need peace and quiet to really engage in the latter.
Ideally, this conversation will at least be initiated in person, not over the phone or video chat. Body language is an important indicator as to how your loved one is responding to the discussion.
Don’t approach the idea aggressively
If you announce one day that you are employing home care, whether they like it or not, you’re asking for a fight. While they may be in need of some additional care, they are still (barring dementia or Alzheimer’s) adults with their own minds and views. Judgment and aggressivity will not win the day.
Be respectful in your approach, and give them options, if you have them available to you, so that they have a measure of control and independence in the process and feel less like they’re being dictated to, like a small child. The point is not to tell them how it’s going to be but to lay out options so that you can both discuss it and come to a collaborative decision together.
Do leverage an opportunity
If your loved one has seen a friend or family member struggle without the help of in home care, this might be the perfect opportunity to open the door to having the conversation for them too. Even if they don’t need help, or a lot of help, in the immediate future, setting the groundwork for future conversations is easier if there is an available opportunity.
Another option is to ask a senior care company or professional to join you in having the discussion: not that you want your loved one to feel ambushed or outnumbered, but to offer independent advice that might be taken more seriously than if you were to say it.
Don’t focus on the negatives
Make the conversation about the fact that home care can increase your loved one’s level of independence and overall happiness. They can stay in their own home for much longer and with a stronger sense of managing their own life, with a little help on the tasks that are somewhat beyond them at their current stage.
Particularly following an illness or a hospital stay, the ability to be home, rather than in a rehabilitation center, is key to a person’s ability to improve quickly. The right care can ensure that your loved one can do this safely and securely.
However you move forward, it’s essential to have these conversations when it’s still possible to start with minimal care, or to answer a negative reaction with: “Well, think about it and we’ll talk again in a few weeks.” Waiting until there is a safety or health issue that makes further discussion moot won’t make it easier. If you’re not sure about whether your loved one needs care or what kinds of care are available, feel free to contact us and ask your questions. We’re happy to help!
If you or an aging loved one are considering in-home senior care in Atlanta, please call the compassionate, caring staff at Mothers Helping Hands Home Care. Call Today! 470-260-4137.