How to have the conversation about aged care
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How to have the conversation about aged care
When to talk to your parents or loved ones about home care, how to spot the warning signs that they may not be coping and what to do if someone close to you needs help.
Ageing is inevitable. Odds are, a time will come when someone close to you will struggle to take care of themselves, or their home, as they once did. But no one likes to talk about their limitations or acknowledge they are not coping, and people can be especially sensitive to suggestions that they may need some extra help at home.
Most of the time, people moving towards older age want to continue living at home, because that's where they feel safe and comfortable. Unfortunately, many people are afraid to ask for help because they are concerned about being a burden on their family, or even having to move to a nursing home against their will.
It's important to help parents or grandparents understand that with a little help, they can continue to enjoy home cooked meals, get around town when they want to and live a healthy, safe and independent life in their own home and community.
Whether it’s time to talk about giving up a driver’s license or getting a helping hand around the house, these tips for approaching a delicate topic with someone close to you can help make the conversation, and outcome, much less stressful for everyone.
For many older adults, admitting they need help feels embarrassing, and they worry it will lead to a loss of independence and control over their own life. So, the burden often falls with family or friends to recognise changes and spot the signs that indicate an older person might need a bit of help.
Chances are, you know your loved one better than most, so pay close attention to their appearance as well as their home. Any changes to the way they normally do things - maybe you’ve noticed Mum doesn’t cook much anymore, or Dad, once a proud green-thumb, has left the backyard overgrown for months – can offer important clues. Other things to look out for include:
Things that might be overlooked by an outsider could be significant warning signs to you.
The earlier you begin to talk to your parents or grandparents about their plans as they get older, the better you can help them prepare and find out all the information they need to know, and the more likely they'll be to be able to live where and how they choose, without options forced on them due to circumstances.
Break the ice early and start talking about their options for home care while your loved one is healthy and independent, so when you do start to recognise changes in their health or ability to look after themselves, or if they have a sudden fall or hospital admission, you'll be better placed to respond with their individual goals and preferences in mind.
Choose the time and place carefully – family gatherings, social outings or celebrations are not the best times to spark up a conversation about a sensitive topic. Pick a time when you can sit down with your parents over a tea or coffee, away from any distractions or people they may not feel comfortable discussing the subject with.
Be sure to start the conversation on a positive note – talk about the things your loved one can do, rather than what they can no longer manage.
Ask them about their plans for their future, what they would like to do, the lifestyle they want and how they see themselves living in the short and long term. As they share these thoughts with you, you’ll start to understand what meaningful ageing is to them.
Some useful conversation starters* include:
‘There are some changes to aged care that mean you’ve got more choices. Can we find out a bit more about them? We can start planning and look into things now.’
‘Mum, when I get older I want to stay in my own home. What would you like to do?’
‘Dad, why don’t we talk about making some improvements to your house so you can stay here for as long as possible. What do you think?’
Talk to them about how home care services are designed to enhance and support their personal goals and lifestyle, so that they can stay at home as they get older. From help cleaning and maintaining their home and garden, to personal care to look and feel their best, or help getting around town – we can provide tailored, personalised care to help them stay at home.
Utilising home care services means they’re taking an important and positive step towards maintaining their independence and living a meaningful life how, and where, they choose.
Above all, treat your loved one like the adult they are and approach the topic with positivity, respect and compassion. Focus the conversation around maintaining and increasing their independence and regularly reassure them that getting a bit of extra help at home won’t mean sacrificing their independence – in fact, quite the opposite.
We're here to help – call our dedicated Care Navigation Team on 1300 761 577.
We'll help you work out what services are available, how to get started, how much it costs and answer any other questions you or they may have, so it's easy and hassle free for your parents or loved one to make informed decisions and receive the care they need.
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