How To Talk To Aging Parents About Home Care

By Eric Carter

As our parents age, it can be difficult to talk to them about getting some help at home. However, it’s important to have these conversations to ensure that loved ones remain safe. When you bring up the idea of getting some help from a caregiver, your parent might welcome the idea, but more likely, they may become defensive or self-conscious. If this happens, here are some ways that you can navigate this difficult conversation.  

1. Try to see things through your parent's point of view. 

As you approach the discussion about home care, consider how your parent might feel. You know them better than anyone and can anticipate why they might be hesitant to hire a caregiver or other long-term care services. As you put yourself in their shoes, you can empathize and help provide solid reasons why home care might be a good fit.  

However, avoid making and stating assumptions about how your parent will react. During the conversation, you should give your parent time to express how they feel.  

2. Choose a setting with limited interruptions. 

Choose a setting where there won't be many interruptions to help keep the conversation focused. You want your parent's undivided attention. You could go for a walk, sit on the back porch, or hang out in the living room.

Turn off the TV and put cell phones on silent to help reduce interruptions. Choose a time when the grandkids or other family members are not around. 

3. Start the conversation early.  

You may want to start the conversation about home care long before a parent actually needs help at home. This will give you and your parents time to discuss senior care options and make plans together. Waiting until your parents are in a crisis can lead to a rushed decision that your parent isn’t happy with. 

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4. Focus on the benefits of home care.  

When talking about home care, focus on the benefits rather than the drawbacks. A caregiver can help your parent with tasks around the house, like laundry or dishes, to help make life at home easier. Caregivers can also provide great companionship. But ultimately, they can help maintain independence and quality of life by helping your parent remain at home instead of having to move to a senior facility.  

5. Listen to your parent. 

Be receptive to what your parent has to say about home care services. Listen to their words and try to discern underlying messages. By doing so, you can identify the real reason why your loved one is hesitant to accept help. Then, you can suggest solutions that both of you feel comfortable with.

Maybe they are embarrassed about needing help with personal care, or they view this as the first step toward them ending up in a nursing home. For this to be a productive conversation, your loved one must feel heard and understood. 

6. Research senior care options. 

Come prepared to the conversation by researching senior care options in your area. This will help you provide your parent with concrete information about the types of care available and the cost of these services.

As you review options, you can also ask your parent what they would prefer and what options sound the best to them. By including your loved one, they can have more peace of mind about the decision.

7. Share how you feel about your parent aging. 

It can be difficult for your parent AND you to accept the challenges that come with aging. After all, your parent has always taken care of you. Frame the conversation around how you feel.

You can talk about how you worry about your parent falling or being alone. You might also want to mention that you don’t feel like you can provide adequate care due to your other responsibilities. As you share how you are feeling, your parent will understand why you are bringing up the idea of home care. It can also help alleviate hard feelings. 

8. Recognize that this may not be a one-time conversation. 

Any big decision requires thought — whether that’s buying a new car or choosing a long-term care solution. The conversation about home care may actually be many conversations. Your parent may need time to process and weight their options, so be patient yet persistent. 

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9. Suggest a trial run.  

If your loved one seems hesitant about accepting help at home, ask if they would consider a trial run. This could provide an opportunity for your loved one to see what having a caregiver in the home is like without feeling pressured to commit to something long-term. A trial run could be a great option especially if your parent is discharged from the hospital or after a serious fall. 

10. Have someone else give advice. 

Sometimes, you may not be the best person to bring up the idea of home care. Maybe the conversation would be best coming from your spouse, an aunt, or another family member. You could also ask your parent’s primary care physician to provide an assessment. Your parent may value the advice more coming from a trusted professional.  

This topic can be difficult and emotional for both you and your parent. And it will take some time for you all to make a decision that feels right for everyone. However, by approaching the conversation with empathy and respect, you and your parent can navigate this difficult topic. For more tips on navigating the conversation about long-term care, reach out to your local Caring office.  

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Tags: Caregivers, Home Care