How & When To Have “The Aged Care Talk” With Your Parents

Parents are often our biggest supporters in life, with a wealth of experience and wisdom that we can always tap into.

But there will come a point in time when they won’t be able to perform their daily activities as they used to. You may notice that from the untended garden, overflowing laundry basket, or small changes to their daily routine. 

When this happens, it might be time to explore the option of home care support to assist them around the house. But the problem is: How do you convince your parents to accept a little extra help? Especially if they’ve been fiercely independent throughout their life?

But first, here are some questions you should be asking yourself before diving into that conversation.

What are the signs that your parents need more help and support?

Several telltale signs may show that your parents need more help and support around the home. You will notice these signs when you find them doing things that are usually outside their daily routine or acting differently. 

One telltale indicator is your parents avoiding their usual chores or certain social events, even the important ones. Once you notice that, you should have a conversation with them to understand the underlying reasons. If the reason is due to difficulty in performing simple activities, immediately start exploring in-home care options for them before the situation escalates to something more serious that may require extensive aged care services.  

The way your parents act towards you can be another significant sign. If you find them constantly seeking assistance from you in all their activities, including the small ones, they may need more help and support.

Martin Healy, founder of CareGivers in Brisbane, has helped many people with the fear of asking their parents or older loved ones if they need home care.

“My main interest has always been on relationships, mainly couples, but also parents and their children, and working on having difficult conversations. It is so important all the time, and this is a prevalent one,” says Healy.

“When we have difficult conversations to be had, we tend to avoid them. If you have a pretty good suggested script, it can help to simplify the process.

“Talking to your loved ones about the options available to help them stay at home and remain independent is crucial.”

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How To Start The Home Care Conversation?

According to Healy, when having the conversation on getting home care with your parents, you must ensure both you and your parents are on the same page regarding how they feel about the suggestion and the kind of care they need. 

You need to put yourself in their shoes and understand how scary it can be for them to lose their independence and give their freedom and privacy to a stranger.

Don’t make assumptions about their wants and constantly ask questions like, “I’m guessing that you’d like to continue living in your own home, but I would really love to know your thoughts on it.”

Also, be open to their opinions and feelings about receiving home care. Carefully explain to your parents that having extra help around the house doesn’t take away their freedom or privacy but ensures they can maintain their independence and stay in their home for longer.

Providing examples of how home care could improve their quality of life, suggested Healy, can encourage them to get on board with the idea.

Some of the support they can get from home care may include driving to shops or appointments, doing the laundry or providing personal care, maintaining the garden, cleaning the house, preparing meals, and doing the dishes.

Let the home care conversation revolve around the assistance your parents need and not what you think they may need. Constantly emphasize that throughout the conversation. 

According to Healy, “It is often good to bring up someone else. Their neighbor has someone mowing their lawn. ‘Do they find that helpful? Do you think that would help? You need to normalize it.”

Experiences from people they are familiar with can increase their interest in the idea. Knowing that one of their friends from next door or within the neighborship uses home care services can make them more comfortable with implementing it in their own home.

If it is a fear of allowing an absolute stranger into their home, let your parents know that you can set a get-know-meeting to gain information on each of the care staff. That can be easier if you live in a regional or remote area – chances are they already know the care staff.  

If there are still doubts and fears after all these, allay those doubts and fears by assuring your parents that they can do a test-run to see if the in-home care works for them and is beneficial.

Misconceptions around how home care and aged care services work may be the reason behind these fears, therefore, be prepared to dispel any false information.

Perform the necessary research on the care options available to your parents and be ready to provide answers to all their doubts.

Why Your Parents Might Be Resistant To The Idea Of Home Care?

It’s quite common among older people to want to stay independent and continue living in their home, which is perfectly fine. Home is where you feel safe and where your precious personal memories are.

Even the Federal Government has programs called Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) and Home Care Packages program, which provides assistance to older people to stay at home longer.

“However, any form of help for many older people”, says Healy, “can really feel like a loss of independence and that people will take away their control, and control their life.

“For many older people, these conversations are often interpreted as a judgment on their ability to remain independent.”

“Giving up their driving license is also a common one. That can be a difficult conversation to have, too. The fear there, they might not want to drive, but they want to have the choice. Don’t tell me I can’t drive!”

It’s best, advised Healy, for you to validate and always empathize with your parents’ feelings.

What Happens If My Parents Refuse To Get Home Care Support?

Always be supportive of your parents’ decisions, even if they choose not to talk about the home care option. Express your love and suggest another time when you can have the discussion again.

“Keep stressing that you are not imposing your will on them; you want to know what they want. If they don’t want anything right now, that is fine,” says Healy.

“Suggest to your parents to think about how a little help around the house could help and mention that you will bring this conversation up later.”

Don’t try to force the idea of home care or aged care services on to your parents. That will only make them more resistant to having extra help around the house.

If they are perfectly fine with not getting help right now, encourage them to think it over and see if they might need someone in the future.

If you would like to have a personal consultation with Mr. Healy about your individual circumstances and how CareGivers may help to find the best solution for you, you can click here to book in a free consultation.

Do you think these tips will help start the difficult conversation about home care with your parents? Let us know in the comments below.

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Martin Healy
    April 7, 2021 2:43 pm

    Have you had “the aged care” talk with your parents? Or maybe with another family member? How did it go? Is there anything you would do differently now?

  • I tried to talk to my mother about it but she doesn’t want to. It’s hard… I’m really struggling to look after her now and am worried that she falls while I’m at work. I will give you a call next week to discuss options. Cheers


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