grandmother

Starting the conversation about care

Starting the conversation about care is never easy. Decisions about when to do it, how to do it and who to involve often make us put the conversation off, even when we know it is only going to get harder.

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How do you start that conversation?

The single most important point is to start the conversation as early as you can. It is much easier to have a conversation when you are not facing an emergency or not dealing with a loved one who is unable to fully understand what is happening.

Before you get started, make sure to plan what you want to say. You may want to do some research into care options that are available to you so you can understand the differences between care homes and care at home. See our article ‘Care home vs Home care-what is the difference?’ Do a practice run, especially to work through how you may react.

You may approach the conversation as an opportunity to get help with things like housekeeping or grocery shopping. Having someone to help prepare a meal may feel like less of a commitment. Find out more about hourly care.

Differences in care options will have a different impact on your loved one’s life. Keep an open mind.

Offer your support

Above all your loved ones may be confused, scared and feeling overwhelmed. They will need reassurance that you will be there to help them. By accompanying them on doctor’s visits and things that may be worrying them, you will reassure them.

Put the conversation in a positive context, talk about how important they are to you and how much you want to support them. Listen and try to understand their expectations. If they are reluctant to talk about these ask them to explain this. Mention their own loved ones and what happened to them. Don’t force the conversation but try and get a commitment to have another discussion at a later date. Your loved one may need some time to think and process what you have said

What do I actually say?

Here are a few ideas that may help start the conversation:

‘I’ve been thinking about when I’m a bit older and may need some help and where I can go for that?’

‘I was wondering if you’ve noticed the same changes in your behaviour that I’ve noticed?’

Do emphasise the positive impact personalised high-quality care can have on their day to day life.

  • Keeping your independence. Accepting care, especially if it is care at home, can enhance your life enabling you to keep up with hobbies and preserving your independence. Having support with everyday tasks can make your day much more manageable.
  • Having company on a regular basis. Having a chat with a carer can be a breath of fresh air for an elderly person and really brighten their day reducing loneliness. Find out more about Companionship care.

Realise gaps in self-awareness

Someone experiencing the signs of early dementia may not see the symptoms in themselves. Be prepared that your loved one may show signs of confusion, denial and withdrawal. See our article ‘How do you know if you are suffering from Dementia?

Use windows of opportunity and plant seeds

Plant seeds and let the conversation grow over time. You’ll find it more difficult if you wait for a crisis. Often, when your loved one is already having difficulties, they’re more defensive.

If your loved one gets a new diagnosis, it’s a great time to review what might be needed. They may realise it’s time to make some changes after a recent fall where they are struggling to keep safe at home. Don’t let these “windows of opportunity” pass. See our article ‘How to make your home safer’

Talk directly about things that may be holding them back. Your loved one may not admit their concerns outright. Listen closely and ask questions. Often an elderly person may fear losing their independence. They think this is the first step toward a nursing home. Listen for unspoken clues and don’t contradict them if you can help it. Show how getting some help at home has kept others out of a nursing home.

Above all don’t try to “fix” everything at once. Sometimes you have to know when to back off. See the conversation as just the start but continue to involve your parent in the process of finding the right care including choosing their own care.