All baby boomers in the United States will be 65 years or older by the year 2030, and every adult child of a baby boomer is going to have a conversation that begins like this in the next 20-30 years.
“Mom or Dad, I think it’s time to look at in-home care services.”
If having that conversation scares you, you’re not alone. We all want to maintain independence and resist needing caregivers. But, if your parent is a risk to themselves or others while living alone, it’s time to have the “talk.”
Luckily, there are some excellent tips to get you through it. Keep reading for 7 tips on how to talk to your parents about senior care.
1. Don’t Wait for a Crisis
You may be thinking, “My mom’s only 50. We have loads of time!” While this is usually true, you never know when the situation may change. Hopefully won’t need help for another couple of decades, but illnesses and accidents can change the scenario at the drop of a hat.
Now is definitely the best time to have this discussion.
Ask your mom what she wants when she’s older. How does she feel about in-home assistance? What are her attitudes towards it right now?
Waiting until a crisis happens when she’s 70 makes the conversation more stressful. It will feel random and pressurized and it’s less likely to be a positive experience.
Whether your parent is 50, 70 or 90, have the conversation. They may be living independently now, but that won’t be the case forever. Start the conversation now to make it easier on everyone later.
2. Get Them Used to Help
It can be overwhelming to go from living independently to needing help with everything, but you can make this easier on them by gradually introducing assistance.
For example, consider signing them up for meal preparation services a couple of times per week. Or, hire someone to clean the house once a week.
These services don’t remove your parent’s independence. Instead, they help them continue living alone longer.
When it finally reaches the point where an in-home caretaker is needed, start with a trial. Have a caretaker spend one week with them and evaluate after. Listen to their feedback and opinion on how the week went and make the necessary adjustments from there.
3. Listen to Their Concerns
There’s a lot of fear surrounding the concept of assisted living. Losing the ability to care for yourself is scary, and often, it means giving power over to someone else.
As their child, it’s your job to understand their concerns. Do not brush them off and assume they’ll get over it.
Approach this conversation with compassion and patience. Listening will be your superpower to ensure that your parent gets the care they need. Listen to each concern they have. And, after doing some research, come back to them with your findings. Show them how their concerns can be remedied!
4. Include Them in Decisions
It’s crucial to let your parent to keep as much control as they safely can. If they are still able to get dressed, don’t make dressing a task for their caretaker.
In fact, include them in the decision of choosing which tasks will be given to an in-home caretaker.
You’ll want your parent to have a good relationship with his or her caretaker(s), so maybe even include them in the interview and trial periods. If they don’t want a particular caretaker, don’t hire them.
Of course, you may encounter a situation where your parent doesn’t want any caretakers. In this case, you need to go back and understand their concerns better. You may also want help from their pastor, doctor or friend when addressing their concerns and helping them to understand why in-home care is important.
Whenever possible and safe, let them make their own decisions.
5. Focus on Independence and Safety
Make it clear that your family’s goal is to help your loved one maintain their independence. You don’t want to take away their freedoms or “babysit” them.
But, also remind them of the safety concerns you may have.
Have they fallen twice in the last month? Did they forget to turn off the stove and a fire erupted? Do they sometimes get lost when driving home from the store?
These are all valid concerns about their safety!
While you still want them to be able to enjoy things like cooking and going to the store, you also want to limit their risk. Show them that hiring a meal service or someone to help around the home will allow them to continue being independent.
6. Use the Child Card
Some people (young and old) hold onto their independence with white knuckles and they might never see how getting assistance will help to maintain their independence. Needless to say, they will be very resistant to in-home care.
In these cases, consider playing the child card!
As their son or daughter, of course, you worry about them. You might see them getting more and more forgetful or watch as they struggle to complete everyday tasks. If so, sit down to talk and list some of the factual events where their safety was impaired due to their aging body or mind.
If you’ve been the person caring for them, tell them how hard it’s been on you. Don’t allow your relationships to suffer because you’re always taking care of them (caregiver stress).
No one wants to be a burden on their children. And, while you’re not saying they’re a burden, you will be able to suggest a better way of taking care of them that you’ll all benefit from.
7. Expect Rejection
Remember the first point mentioned above? (Have the conversation before a crisis happens.) One reason for that suggestion is because you will likely get rejected the first few times.
But, just because they shut down the idea of help now doesn’t mean they will later.
Don’t let their rejection overwhelm you or cause more stress. You’re planting the seeds for a conversation that MUST happen at some point… But perhaps not today.
If you start these conversations early enough, you’ll have plenty of wiggle room for rejection. By the time they truly need in-home care, they’ll be more informed about the idea and more likely to accept help.
Wondering How to Talk to Your Parents About Other Aging Topics?
Aging can be a sensitive topic for some seniors. It’s normal to feel uneasy about someone else taking over your daily tasks, so it’s important to have a plan on how to talk to your parents about these things.
At Bridgewater Senior Home Care, we walk through this experience with you. Whether your parent needs simple medication reminders, 24-hour care or something in between, we’re here.
Feel free to contact us for a free health care needs assessment. Together with your parent, we can find a way to keep them safe and independent.