Holidays can bring families together in wonderful ways, with more visiting and shared time than might be typical throughout the year. You may spend several hours or a few days with loved ones you haven’t seen in some time. While this can be an excellent time to reconnect, it is also true that the shared time can bring developing health concerns to light. A few hours with a senior parent or grandparent might give you hints on what’s been going on at home, while a few days may bring real concerns that need to be addressed. Take the opportunity to check in on those in your family who may be vulnerable to risk living alone.
We’ve explored some of the signs a senior parent needs support and these are a good place to start when trying to decide if it’s time to be concerned. If you’re worried about the safety and well-being of your loved ones, it’s usually for good reason. Take some time to assess the situation or possibly chat with other family members about what they have observed. In some cases, holiday visits may offer time with those who are caring for other family members, and are a good opportunity to listen to their concerns as well. Circumstances in our lives continually change and solutions need to evolve as well.
Once you recognize a need for something to change in how your aging parent is living, it is important to create a plan before bringing up the topic. Plan what you want to say, and who should be involved in the discussion. You might consider approaching other family members first to get a clear picture of how things are truly going at home, and to hear from those who may have been trying to juggle helping out into already busy schedules. You can also speak with someone from an in-home care agency to get some insight as to the types of support that are offered.
It can be valuable to speak with the following before you meet with your loved one, and some may be appropriate to invite to the actual discussion as well:
- family members
- family doctor
- other medical professionals
- close friends
- resource from an in-home care agency
Discussing the need for in-home care is a sensitive topic, and it’s important to go into the conversation with respect and sensitivity. In many cases, you are talking about change with someone who has spent decades enjoying their independence and freedom. It is only natural that your loved ones may have misgivings about the idea of accepting help, let alone inviting a stranger into their home. A list of objections is not uncommon. We all pride ourselves on our independence and admitting that support is needed can be very difficult.
Things to remember when discussing in-home care support:
- State the common goal – “to remain in their home for as long as possible”
- Above all, be respectful and ensure to involve your loved one in the conversation
- Let your observations and concerns guide the conversation
- Remember that speaking of your own worries makes it easier for someone else to listen
- Ask your loved one for permission to do this for them, in order to regain peace of mind
- Know that it may take several discussions to cover all topics or overcome objections
- Blame and guilt will only make the conversation more difficult
- Remember that you and your loved one both want the best solution
- Have a plan for what you want to discuss each time you meet
- Suggest a trial period to see how it goes with having someone come in short term
- Educate yourself on what support and services are available
- Stay positive and acknowledge common ground or points on which you agree
- Keep the focus on the happiness and well-being of your senior parent
Work together to identify areas in which your senior parent could use support. They may feel more comfortable admitting certain areas of need if you first acknowledge all they still can do. They may take pride in certain tasks or skills, and these can still be valued and appreciated. In-home care can meet their needs now with light or moderate levels of support, with extra time or services added over time as needs increase. It may be easier for them to say yes to a small amount of support now, then increase as time goes on and they grow more comfortable with the idea, and their companion.
It’s possible that the family has been taking care of what their aging parent needs, but over time this can become too heavy a demand on busy schedules. Many families are already juggling work, childcare, activities, and fitting in more becomes unmanageable. Exploring respite care or short term help can lift weight from families who are struggling to meet demands on their time. Learning more about in-home care can help families balance changing needs, as well as ensure they are well-prepared in the event of a crisis. Take the steps now to learn what support is available, and have the conversation ahead of time so discussions can be thoughtful and productive.
Talking with seniors about in-home care and support can feel like a threat to their independence at first, but in many ways the opposite is true. There are many levels of support, and a customized plan could provide enough care to keep them safe from injury that can force a bigger change. Keep the focus on the common goal, which is your loved one staying safe and well in their own home, with as much independence as possible. If in-home care can provide enough support for them to stay in their own homes following their normal routine, and offer some peace of mind for the family, that’s a very positive change!
The holidays may bring joy and celebration, but also time for families to work together on solutions so the new year ahead brings health and happiness to the whole family.
For more information on when to know if the time is right to seek support, take our senior care assessment.
Have questions or feedback on what you just read? Please don’t hesitate to contact us, we’d love to chat with you.
~ Senior Homecare by Angels Calgary team