It can be upsetting for children to watch their aging parents struggle to complete their day-to-day tasks. In many cases, in-home elder care is the most prudent choice to ensure your mom and dad can live safely and independently at home.
However, many older people resist the idea of in-home care. It’s a perfectly normal reaction for people who have lived with support all their lives. They might not want to burden anyone or admit to needing help with simple activities such as dressing, grooming, bathing, or toileting.
Opening the conversation about home care might be met with resistance or even anger. To keep discussions moving forward positively and peacefully, we’ve listed five DOs and five DON’Ts when bringing up the subject. If applied correctly, these tips will help your parents overcome their concerns and eventually accept the hired help you’re lovingly suggesting.
The Six DOs of talking to your parents about home care
Here are six great ways to open the conversation about home care with your parents and keep the dialogue going if they’re not open to the idea at first.
Do show empathy for their situation
Growing old can be difficult for many people, especially when dealing with health conditions such as anxiety, depression, dementia, chronic illness, or mobility issues. When mishaps happen, avoid saying anything negative such as, “This is why you need help!” This kind of talk can lead to sadness, shame, and a reluctance to accept your advice on homecare. Think about how you would feel in their place, and always show kindness and empathy to your aging parents. This approach will advance their acceptance of getting help.
DO stress that they’re not losing their independence
The first thing that might come to a parent’s mind is that home care will rob them of their independence. The truth is that home care actually enhances independence and allows your parents to still live at home. The home caregiver is just there to provide a helping hand, not take over your parent’s life. Be sure to stress that their caregiver is an assistant and that your parents will always be in charge.
DO research home care options
When faced with the prospect of homecare, mom and dad will likely have many questions. Have the information ready by doing your research beforehand. There is plenty of authoritative information on the Internet and home care websites that may answer all of their questions. You can also ask a friend whose parents are already receiving home care. Your parents will appreciate your efforts to be informed and consider the matter more in-depth.
DO take baby steps
It’s wonderful to be proactively bringing up the discussion about home care. However, it’s important not to expect a final decision after the first conversation. Your parents will need time to absorb the idea, think about their options, and make a choice that’s best for them. Take it slow and be patient – this is a life changing decision that deserves ample time for reflection. A trial run might be a good idea to see if they enjoy the home care experience.
DO tell them that you’ll still be there
Your parents might be afraid that their children, grandchildren, and others will stop visiting if the caregiver is there, especially if one or more of them have already been providing care. Provide reassurance that a caregiver is enabling you to have more quality time with them. Make sure they know how important you are to them and that you’ll always be there, whether or not there’s a caregiver in place.
DO practice good self-care
Lying awake at night worrying about your parents’ reluctance to accept home care won’t do anyone any good. Find a positive outlet for stress, such as exercise, hobbies you enjoy, or simply talking to a friend. You can also seek support from an online group with people in similar situations. Let go of negative emotions and care for yourself with as much love as you would your parents.
The six DON’Ts of talking to your parents about home care
Now that we know the DOs, let’s have a look at the DON’Ts, and how you can turn adverse reactions into opportunities to keep the idea of home care open.
DON’T argue with them
Mom and dad might not feel they need home care right now, and want to remain in control of their life and care decisions. Becoming frustrated and arguing won’t convince them and may actually strengthen their resolve. Honoring their wishes and maintaining a good relationship with your parents is much more productive, so they’ll be more open to discussing the issue again down the road.
DON’T make unwarranted assumptions
If your parents resist the idea of home care, don’t assume it’s because they’re being stubborn, difficult, or unwilling to “face facts”. They might have genuine underlying concerns, such as letting a stranger in the house or whether they can afford home care. Try to get to the root cause of their resistance so it can be addressed and solved in a frank and positive manner.
DON’T get frustrated during the process
It might seem that your conversations sometimes move one step forward and two steps back. This is normal when discussing vital topics such as home care. Trying a different approach at a different time might get better results and move your parents closer to a decision.
DON’T lose focus on the subject at hand
Accepting home care is a big step for most older adults that requires careful consideration. You might be tempted to also suggest they join walking groups, bridge clubs, or other beneficial but off-topic activities. Too many decisions at once might overwhelm your parents at this critical juncture. It’s much more practical to divert your energy to helping your parents explore home care options.
DON’T treat your parents like children
Scolding mom and dad for having wishes contrary to yours is counter-productive. They might appear to be acting childishly, but your parents are still adults and deserve to be treated with respect. This also applies when they occasionally forget to take medications, shower, or eat. Being kind, patient, and respectful will help keep the conversation about home care positive and progressive.
DON’T do it alone
Your parents may disregard your concerns simply because you’re their child. They recognize you mean well but might not consider you an authority on care needs. Try to bring their primary care physicians, specialists, nurses, and peers into the conversation. Mom and dad might respond better to their advice and realize that home care might be an ideal approach to getting them the help they need.
If you need an outside opinion with no obligation, give CareHop a call. We’re always here when you need us.
Quality in-home elder care in Etobicoke, Toronto West, Mississauga, and Brampton
CareHop provides safe, reliable in-home care when your elderly loved ones need help with everyday tasks or specialized Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care. We specialize in delivering quality services such as homemaking and meal preparation, personal care, activities, and casual companionship that will help your loved one live independently and with confidence.
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