How to Approach the “More Help” Conversation with Your Aging Loved One
Nobody likes to see their loved ones grow older. It can be painful and disheartening to watch an aging loved one give up favorite hobbies or downsize due to physical limitations that come with age. What’s even more difficult to watch is when an aging loved one clearly needs help at home, but refuses to ask for help, accept help, or admit that they need help. This often puts family members in difficult situations. Do they arrange for in-home care anyway? Do they keep living in denial themselves in order to preserve their loved one’s dignity? What’s one to do? If you’ve noticed significant changes in your aging loved one’s health and well-being and you know that it’s time for in-home care, here are a few tips on how you can gently approach this conversation.
Set a Date
Whether this conversation is with your aging parents or close relative, nobody looks forward to confrontation. Instead of continuing to put up barriers, set a date with your aging loved one. You can include key family members but keep it the numbers small. Have this conversation at your loved one’s home. Avoid going out where background noise can make it difficult for them to clearly hear you. Let them know in advance that you want to talk with them about your feelings about their health. Resist the urge to have a family intervention — where everyone in the family is present and your aging loved one is caught off guard.
Keep your concerns small and specific. Focus on key areas of their health and well-being that are easily amendable. For example, you clearly see that your overweight, diabetic mother needs help with bathing. Instead of focusing on her weight, focus on her hygiene care. You can address weight later, after she’s adjusted to having additional help with hygiene. Avoid exaggerations, such as “you always,” or “you never,” when you’re specifying your concerns. Those phrases can quickly cause your loved one to shut down.
In addition to keeping your concerns specific and brief, accept responsibility for the situation. Use “I feel” phrases to describe your perspective. For example, say, “I feel worried when you’re home alone and I’m at work and can’t check in with you every hour. I worry that you’ll fall in the shower or forget to turn off the stove.” You can even say that it would give you peace of mind knowing that someone is there when you can’t be present. Let them express their feelings as well, and truly listen before jumping to conclusions.
Respect Their Space
Chances are that once you’ve expressed your concerns, your aging loved one will be eager to end the conversation. They probably are already aware of their need for help, and your confrontation only makes it public now. Give them time to process what you’ve said before moving forward with a plan. Wait a couple of weeks before talking about in-home care or making appointments with in-home care agencies. You can certainly set a date with your aging loved one to discuss what’s next, if that helps move things forward.
Start with a Trial Run
Many seniors that are resistant to ongoing in-home care are more receptive to receiving in-home care on a trial basis. If your aging loved one is hesitant, start care on a trial basis. You can use the excuse of a vacation or busy season in your life and arrange respite (temporary) care for your loved one. This gives them an out and helps them feel more in control. Once they’ve tried in-home care, they’ll realize how wonderful it is and what a burden it takes off their plate, as well as yours.
Visiting Angels Punta Gorda is here to help you start this conversation with your aging loved one. Our senior care coordinator can meet with your loved one in the comfort of their own home to discuss care options that best fit your loved one’s needs. We provide a variety of in-home care services that allows seniors to remain safely and independently at home. Our services are available on an affordable hourly basis with flexibility in times, days, and length of care visits. If you’re ready to take the next step in arranging in-home, please contact us today by calling 941-347-8288 Punta Gorda or 239-226-1620 Cape Coral.