Staying in our own home as long as possible as we age is a goal most of us have. That’s likely how your elderly parent feels, too. Home offers a sense of independence and security that is hard to imagine living without; however, living independently isn’t always in everyone’s best interest as they age. Being able to talk about the dangers of living unassisted is necessary, but can be a tough topic to bring up.
Few things are more stressful for a family caregiver than an aging loved one who refuses to accept the help they need. The conversation can become frustrating and repetitive, but you know you can’t keep providing constant support for your parents; you have family and work obligations too. So, how do you go about talking to your elderly parents about assisting living?
Start the Conversation Early
If possible, you and your family should have relaxed conversations about caregiving long before a health crisis occurs. Don’t be pushy, just mention that there are options available. Look for opportunities to talk to them about the future, and ask questions like, “Dad, where do you see yourself getting older?”
If you see them starting to struggle with mobility, driving, and other daily tasks, start by acknowledging how these activities are becoming more difficult. Sympathize with them before offering a solution by saying something like, “It’s hard keeping up with laundry. I understand. How would you feel about hiring a housekeeper to help out around the house?” By starting to talk about the possibility in-home care, you’re giving your loved one the opportunity to consider their future and have a hand in the decision-making process, adding to their independence.
Form a Caregiving Unit
Deciding how to care for your elderly parent should not be an overnight decision, much less one you make on your own. Caregiving is a family affair, so this is a time to reach out to your siblings, children, and aunts and uncles to address your aging parent’s needs together. Talking about senior care opportunities as a unit will help you to feel less alone, as everyone is on the same page and can help support your decisions.
They are Adults, be Respectful
The quickest way to have your parent reject your assistance is to patronize them. Asking for assistance is difficult, as it can make them feel as though their autonomy is being taken away. It’s very likely that your parent is afraid of losing their independence or being viewed a burden. To dispel those fears, don’t talk down to them. Instead, speak calmly to them and ask questions about their feelings, so they know you are coming from a place of love.
Watch for Teachable Moments
Did mom take a tumble and not get injured? Moments like these are incredibly scary, but you can use them to remind your elderly parent of the dangers of living unassisted. Using situations like these as a springboard to start conversations about assisted care options can be an effective way to help parent understand that you care about their safety and quality of life.
Offer Options When Needed
When the time comes to start finalizing decisions, let your elderly parent be included in the process and know all the options available to them. Allowing them to take part in the decision-making lets them feel in control, and allows both of you to work as a team.
If your parent is expressing signs of memory loss or is already diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, however, offering less information may be more useful at times. Too many options or information can be overwhelming for those with cognitive disorders. Instead, let your parent know that someone very helpful will be visiting them to assist with meals, take them on walks, and be a companion throughout the day. Talk about the positives and put emphasis on their well-being and fun activities.
Don’t Feel Guilty
Often, adult children retain guilt about getting their elderly parent extra in-home care or moving them to an assisted living facility. Don’t beat yourself up. It is incredibly difficult to be a full-time family caregiver and you have to accept your limitations. You can’t be there for them all the time, but professional caregivers can. It is scary suddenly feeling like the parent to your aging parent, and that’s okay. Accept the limits of what you can accomplish on your own. Don’t feel guilty about helping your parents get the assistance they need to better their quality of life.
If you and your loved one have started to consider in-home health care options, contact your local Accessible Home Health Care caregiver today to learn how we can help.