Discussing Care Needs With Your Loved One
Discussing care needs with an elderly loved one is never easy. None of us like to think that we are unable to cope in our own homes, and as we age we are likely to become increasingly resistant to anyone trying to convince us that we need help. For an older person who may become easily confused, such a conversation could quickly become upsetting, so it’s vital to prepare well in advance of broaching the subject with your elderly relative or friend.
Prepare in Advance
It’s best to prepare for the conversation as far in advance as possible so that you have all the necessary facts to hand and can discuss them knowledgeably and calmly with your loved one. Take time to work out exactly what you need to say, spending time to make sure that you use appropriate wording so as not to cause any upset or offence. Choosing the right words is particularly important, as it can make all the difference between your loved one accepting your advice or not.
Understand Your Loved One’s Point of View
The majority of elderly people are resistant to change, so you need to be sympathetic to this fact before discussing care needs with them. Your loved one is highly unlikely to accept that they need help and assistance and is almost certain to be wary of any suggestion that they can no longer lead a completely independent life. Moreover, they are sure to be unwilling to agree with any suggestion that they should give up their home comforts and move to a completely new environment, so you need to put yourself in their position and choose your words accordingly.
Ask, Don’t Tell
Your communication with your loved one needs to be effective, so aim to introduce the topic in the form of a helpful discussion rather than a series of suggestions that could lead them to feel that they are being coerced.
Perhaps you could instigate the discussion by asking them how they are managing to cope with their housework, for example. An enquiry into how they are getting on with coping with stairs is another useful introduction to the subject, and your loved one’s responses should guide you as to the best way to proceed with the conversation. Sticking to general subjects, such as how they cope with tackling their weekly shopping needs, allows your loved one to voice any concerns that they are having about their ability to cope, without you having to introduce the subject more directly.
When discussing care needs, always stress the fact that your loved one has choices. Whether it’s help in the home or a move to a care home, let your loved one know that their wishes and needs are important to you so that they don’t feel they are a burden or in the way. Allow time for them to absorb elements of the conversation, but you may find that in cases where there is a great deal of resistance, a professional, such as a doctor, is needed to intervene to backup your arguments regarding your loved one’s ongoing safety and security.