How to talk to your loved one about aged care
Realising an elderly family member who may not be coping as well as they used to can be a difficult and daunting time for everyone. You may have noticed some changes in your loved one’s abilities and health following extended periods of lockdown and reduced social activities over the past two years.
If COVID-19 has meant you haven’t been able to visit your loved one as regularly as you would like, noticing these sorts of changes can be overwhelming. Remember, you’re not alone in facing this kind of situation. Although you may have concerns about your loved one’s health and safety, there are lots of resources to help you navigate what can be a challenging time.
KinCare has 30 years of experience delivering home care services and support. Our team can help you and your loved one decide what’s needed to enable them to stay living independently, safely and comfortably in their own home for longer.
If you think your parent or loved one is reaching the stage where decisions need to be made about their future care, read our tips below and get in touch to find out how we can help.
1. Do your research
Before you sit down with your loved one to talk about what might be worrying you, it’s a good idea to do some research and find out as much as you can about their aged care options, including the benefits of in-home care.
Whether they need a few hours of domestic assistance each week or more intensive daily support, we can help you understand how KinCare’s services can be tailored to suit their unique needs and wants.
You can also visit myagedcare.gov.au to understand what funding your loved one may be eligible to receive.
2. Involve your family and other key people
Family members can have very different expectations for how their parents will be cared for as they age. Talking openly about everyone’s expectations is an important step in agreeing the best way forward for your loved one.
Having the support of other family members as well as key people in your loved one’s life, such as a close friend, their GP or a trusted neighbour can also help, particularly if you have faced some resistance.
3. Choose the right time and place
When you feel equipped with the right information about suitable options and you have the backing of all the family, it’s time to talk to your loved one about your concerns.
To avoid your family member or loved one feeling distressed or rushed into a decision about their future care, choose a time when you can sit down together for a cup of tea and a chat without being disturbed.
Be honest, but don’t overwhelm them with information. It can be good to focus on one issue at a time. For example, you could mention you have noticed they haven’t been taking their medication regularly – and leave mentioning you’ve noticed they haven’t been eating regular, nutritious meals for another time.
Don’t be discouraged if they don’t agree to in-home care immediately. It’s normal to have a few conversations about what’s troubling you and the possible solutions before coming to an agreement.
4. Be supportive and focus on positives
As an older person who has lived a full and independent life accepting they now need help can be overwhelming and demoralising. Being supportive and showing them that their needs are a priority can smooth difficult conversations. Be kind, ask what they want and actively listen to their needs.
It’s a good idea to focus your discussion on the positive aspects of home care and what that will mean for their future – rather than going over the challenges you’ve been noticing.
Remember, home care is designed to help people thrive in their homes. Talk about the incredible benefits to their lifestyle – less housework, getting out and about more and the chance to refocus on much-loved hobbies.
5. Make your loved one feel in control
When so much is changing, making sure your loved one still feels in control of their life is important. Don’t accuse or judge them, even if you feel worried and frustrated by their changing behaviours. Instead, focus on the issues that are concerning you, like signs of anxiety and depression.
Above all, make it clear that you are on your loved one’s side, that you will support them in every way you can so they can stay in their home – and that you will listen to their needs and wants.
6. Plan ahead
The earlier you can start talking about your loved one’s needs and wants as they age, the better. Decisions can be much easier if your family member is able to have a say about the aged care they will receive.
Getting support from a home care team early on can also help your family prepare as your loved one continues to age. This is especially important if they have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
7. Be mindful about your conversations
Discussing aged care options is a sensitive topic. Think carefully about what you want to say to your loved one and how you will say it.
Below are some common conversation starters to avoid and suggestions that might help to break the ice in a sensitive and positive way.
KinCare’s long history in home care means we have the knowledge and skills to help you and your loved one navigate the aged care system in a way that works for you both.
Contact us today to discuss your situation and how we can help.