Every adult son, daughter, or grandchild will become a family caregiver, and the initial step is having “the talk” with an aging relative. It usually addresses their safety living at home, health, eating habits, and if they can care for themselves. Bringing up the issues is not easy, but it’s one you cannot escape.
Being a family member, you are not the first person to help an older loved one. Thousands of people have come before you and much more will follow. I remember clearly the day my siblings, and I brought it up with mom and dad. I thought dad would make a fast escape, but mom knew the time was right.
The Aging Council Members at SeniorCare.com understand the challenges that family members and seniors are up against when planning for the future care. The children watch loved ones decline and get sick while older adults learn to let go and allow another person to help out. It’s difficult for both parties, that’s why I asked several senior care professionals to give you tips on starting the conversation.
What is the number one suggestion you recommend to a family member who is ready to have the “care assistance” conversation with a relative?
Start with the purpose, not the problem, and ask questions rather than stating conclusions. “Mom, we’d like to make sure you have independence and a high quality of life while you age. So we’d like to talk about what the best living options are going to be in every scenario.” NOT “Mom, we need to talk about moving into a retirement home.” Kai Stinchcombe, True Link Financial.
Put yourself in their shoes and begin by talking about how hard it must be to lose any form of once treasured independence. People do not listen to others until they know and feel you care for and understand them. Then listen to them intently with no motives of your own. Rhonda Caudell, Endless Legacy.
Understand that the relative will resist your suggestions to change, so be patient. Most seniors would prefer that any if assistance is required, a family member provides it, but this might not be possible. Be prepared to work with them throughout the process and understand it may not go just the way you would want it too. Daniel Parker, Right at Home.
Stop waiting to look for solutions until your family is on the verge of crisis or worse yet, in one. Become proactive vs. reactive. Focus on the hope for the future and never fear it. Everyone at every age wants to feel empowered, respected and to be “part of” of the decision-making process. Start planning for the future today. Lori La Bey, Alzheimer’s Speaks.
The number one suggestion: Ask them what they need, don’t tell them what you want. Listen and be prepared to support them where they are and make plans for their future with their input. Elizabeth Taylor, Taylor Organizing.
Approach gently. Ask questions. And LISTEN! Ask the elder if they are concerned about the situation. Ask the loved one if they know about all of the different services that are available to help. My mother did not know that home care companies existed and could come in a few hours to assist. She thought she was going to have to go to a nursing home. Kathryn Watson, Find Houston Senior Care.
Come from the perspective that you want to do something to make their lives easier. Share your concerns and tell them it would make you feel better. Make them feel as if they are doing something for you. If that doesn’t work, I have seen success in the tactic of presenting the “Worst Case Scenario” story. No one wants to hear the term “Nursing Home.” Julie Westcott, Tender Loving Family Care.