Three Tips for Approaching Tough Conversations with Aging Loved Ones

Author: Home Helpers Home Care

Approximately 70% of people ages 65 and older will require some type of long-term care service and support in their remaining years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For some, this need will arise suddenly after an unexpected health emergency or the discovery of a chronic condition, such as heart disease, dementia, arthritis, or cancer. For others, it will come about gradually as physical strength, balance, and overall mobility decline with age.

Everyday activities that were once standard and easy will be increasingly difficult and potentially unsafe. For example, going up and down stairs, navigating uneven surfaces, and stepping over cords or rugs will become challenging and present a fall risk. Driving to run errands or attend social events will become more difficult and potentially dangerous as eyesight weakens, especially if visibility is impacted by darkness, fog, rain, or snow. Activities of daily living, such as preparing meals, showering, and dressing, will require more time, energy, and focus than they used to.

Regardless of the situation, approaching these conversations can be difficult and may be met with resistance. Most people wish to maintain their independence for as long as possible at home, and the idea of losing parts of one’s independence can be difficult to accept.

Here are three tips to help ease into these conversations with your aging loved ones early and often before the need arises so you all feel better prepared and aligned as care needs change. Talking about these topics openly and honestly will help you understand your loved one’s wishes, explore various options, and consider financial and legal implications so you can all plan accordingly.

  1. ASK QUESTIONS AND BE PATIENT – It may be difficult for your loved one to acknowledge that there could come a day when they require assistance with the basic activities of life. Ask questions to get them thinking about what’s most important to them as they age and what arrangements they need to make now to make it possible.

    For example:

      •  Are they prepared financially and legally, should a care need arise suddenly?
      •  Have they thought about where they’d like to live as their care needs change?
      •  Do they wish to stay at home for as long as possible, or are they open to exploring other
         living arrangements, such as moving to a retirement community?

    While these questions may feel uncomfortable at first, discussing these topics openly will help your loved one feel in control of their own life decisions, as opposed to someone else.
  2. INVOLVE THE RIGHT PEOPLE AND DOCUMENT DECISIONS – Include siblings and other close family members or friends in the discussions and take notes. Make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to your loved one’s wishes as their care needs change.

    If it’s determined that family will provide care as care needs arise, be open and honest with one another about expectations and limitations. Family Caregivers are often juggling multiple responsibilities, such as families and careers of their own. What sounds feasible today may prove to be too much for a family Caregiver to manage when the time comes.

    Talk with your loved one about the idea of hiring a professional Caregiver, such as a Home Helpers Home Care Caregiver, to provide respite care to help prevent Caregiver burnout. This type of care can help alleviate much of the stress, guilt, and even resentment that can manifest when a loved one’s care needs exceed that of which the family Caregiver can provide.
  3. BE COMPASSIONATE AND EMPATHETIC – No matter the situation, the thought of losing one’s independence will be difficult to accept and comprehend – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Try to put yourself in your loved one’s position.

    How would you feel if you had to think about your own end-of-life wishes? Try to listen and withhold judgment.

    Encourage your loved one to talk about how they’re feeling. Let them know it’s better to let it out than pretend everything is okay.

    Most importantly, reassure your loved one that you will be there to support them through this stage of life, just as they have been there for you.

Learn More About Home Care

Are you or a loved one in need of in-home care? Home Helpers® Home Care is here to help. For over 25 years, we have provided exceptional in-home care for seniors, new moms and families, and those with disabilities, illness, or recovering from injury or surgery.

We’re here to be a trusted partner in your care needs journey, with a team of compassionate professionals supporting you every step of the way. Our services and care plans are customizable, so you receive just the right amount of care and can be adjusted as needs change.





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