How do you first begin the often sensitive topic of future care with your parents? For many, this may be one of their top concerns at the moment. Your parent has always taken care of you and now you want to do the same for them by making sure they can stay safe and independent at home. Here are some tips to having that difficult conversation.
How to Approach the Conversation about Home Care
Geriatric psychiatrist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Ken Robbins explains that there are 2 fundamental ways a parent will react to a conversation about home care:
- They will either welcome your ideas and feedback
- They will become self-conscious and insulted
For the conversation to go well and end up with the first option as the outcome, the conversation really depends your parent, the timing, and the setting.
While you can't control your parent, you can consider their feelings. What are they going through and why may they be hesitant to consider hiring a caregiver at home? Maybe they are already aware they need help but feel that they should be able to take care of things themselves. Whatever the reason, when can you look at your parent's perspective you can start to have a positive and productive conversation with them.
Ensure that you have enough time to devote to a long conversation about your mom's or dad's future. Don't interrupt your parent's schedule or force the conversation if the moment doesn't feel right. While it can be hard to judge the right moment, just make sure that you and your parent are both in an open state of mind.
Choose a setting where there won't be many interruptions. You want your parent's undivided attention. Maybe you can go for a walk through the park to discuss it. Go out on the back porch. Or just sit in the living room with the TV off. Here, you can consider together that most of us will eventually need some kind of care.
It is not a sign of weakness to need extra care at home but rather a practical part of life.Once you can both discuss this, you can begin to go over how home care will benefit your parent.
6 Tips to Make Discussing Home Care with a Parent Easier
Don't make assumptions about how your parent will react. This advice applies to any conversation. You can never really know how anyone will react to you, even if you know them extremely well. Instead, you just have to start talking. Take the first step and see where the conversation naturally leads.
Recognize that you’re busy. Acknowledge this fact right now. It will help you see that planning the conversation will require finding a time when you can devote your undivided attention to your parent.
Try making the conversation about how you are feeling. It can seriously help to just express that you are worried about them. Pointing out that your parent is no longer able to take care of themselves without help or listing off reasons why they need home care will only make them feel chastised and incapable. Instead, try and make the conversation about you how you are feeling.
Be respectful. Try to avoid a bossy or dismissive tone. Remember, as long as your mom or dad is a fully functioning adult, you can't force them to follow your advice.
Listen. Really try to be receptive to what your parents have to say. If you can do this, maybe you pick up on what they are truly resistant of when it comes to home care. If you can find out what is worrying them about home care, then you can suggest solutions to their concerns.
Recognize that this may not be a one-time conversation. Any decision requires thought. Think about the last time you had to make a big decision. Maybe it was buying a new house or helping your kid decide where to go to college. You had to sleep on it, right? Your parent will too. They need to let the though sink in and weigh their options. Even children have to think long and hard over what kind of candy bar they want for the movies, right? So just try to be patient as your parent makes their decision.
At the end of the day, that walk through the park spent discussing your parent's future care will hopefully lead to future reassurance that your parent will be taken care of when you take that vacation this summer or are out of town for work next.
For more tips, feel free to reach out to your local Caring office. At Caring Senior Service, we have been helping seniors remain healthy, happy, and home for over 25 years.