As our parents age, we begin to notice signs that they may need some extra help in their daily lives. Whether you have noticed physical or mental/emotional changes, it’s important to take the next step and have a conversation with your parents about what you’ve seen. For more information on identifying whether or not your parents need care, check out this article. Once you’ve identified the problem areas and decided on in-home care as a solution, you might be concerned about angering or upsetting your parents.
This is a dilemma many people face when talking to their parents about in-home care. Starting a conversation that centers around such a sensitive topic can seem intimidating, or like a conversation doomed to fail. In fact, according to a study done by New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, and the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State University, 77% of grown children believe that their parents are too stubborn when listening to advice or receiving help. The reality behind the stubbornness is that just like you, your parents simply want to retain control over their lives. Therefore it becomes crucial that any conversations about in-home care center around the idea that the in-home care would only enhance and elongate your parents’ current independence. Here is our process for ensuring a successful conversation about in-home care.
Before starting the conversation about in-home care with your parents, do your research. Take a look at the different in-home care options in your area and learn how they could be financed. Anticipate questions about finances from both your parents and any other family members involved in the decision.
2. Involve Others
You might not be the only family member noticing the signs that your parents need care, and there may be other family members that should or would like to be involved in helping care for your parents (siblings, nephews, nieces, etc.). Since in-home care usually involves the entire family, it’s a good idea to speak privately to those who will also be involved in the conversation with your parents. If everyone gives different advice to your parents, it increases the chances of them rejecting the idea of care or making the conversation more difficult.
3. Start Neutral
It’s tempting to sit your parents down and jump right into telling them why they need in-home care. Instead, pick a natural setting and start with a neutral topic. If you never talk to them in their dining room, a tough conversation like this one is probably not the time to start. Choose a familiar and comfortable spot, preferably in their home so that they can be reminded that they are still in control of their own lives. AARP suggests opening up the conversation by talking about a recent article, or trip – something that could transition into the ultimate goal of the conversation.
4. List Your Observations
It’s important to start off with your observations because it provides a base of reasoning you can use to explain why you believe in-home care is in your parents’ best interest. In this situation, it’s easy to point the finger at your parents and say things like “You’ve been struggling to drive lately”, which may cause them to shut down and become defensive. Experts agree that it’s best to use “I” statements to communicate effectively. A better way to comment on their driving is “I’ve noticed that you were having a difficult time driving in the rain the other day”. This way, you own the observation and show your parents that while you care, the floor is still open for them to explain what’s going on.
5. Present the Research
After you list your observations, present the research you have done about in-home care. This shows your parents that you care to look for the best provider for them, and that you are educated on the topic. It also closes their minds to alternatives, like waiting a few months to see if they truly need the care, and gives them a platform to ask even more specific questions. Be sure to show them brochures, websites, contact numbers, or even a care plan so that they can feel independent in understanding the care.
6. Listen and Answer
Throughout the entire conversation, make sure that you actively listen to your parents’ questions and concerns. Imagine yourself in a similar situation, and try to empathize with their emotions. Acknowledge their fear or stubbornness, and counter it in a way that seems caring and open minded. If you truly don’t know the answer to a question, suggest that you search for the answer together. Remind your parents that you want them involved in choosing the caregiver, care plan, and care times – and that they will still be able to make their own decisions. When in doubt, consult with a care advisor, and above all, be patient.
7. Follow Through
Most likely, this conversation will set the precedent for future tough conversations with your parents. This is inevitable with aging, and completely natural. The important thing to remember is that with every conversation comes an action plan, which should be followed through in order to instill the confidence that your parent made the right decision. Work with your parent to meet and interview caregivers, and schedule the first visit. Talk to an accountant or an insurance company, and involve your parents in these meetings. Then follow up with your parents and make sure that they are happy with the care plan and their caregiver. If they aren’t, work with them to figure out what needs to change and make the changes.
We know that it’s not easy to have this conversation. Yet with a little guidance and a lot of patience, it’s possible to have a painless conversation about in-home care with your parents. You can even enhance the conversation by requesting an in-home visit from a Respect caregiver in order to ease you and your parents’ concerns and answer any lingering questions to ensure a productive outcome. If you need additional support or would like a personalized care plan, our care advisors are always available to walk you through the process at 888-330-5401.
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