How to Introduce Your Parents to the Idea of Homecare
Start Thinking About It
If it’s been a while since you last saw your aging parents, you may be shocked at how your mother’s health status has changed in such a short time. Is she losing weight, does she appear unkempt? Did you always have to shout so loud for your dad to hear you? At some point you will be struck with the realization that your parents are getting older. It’s time to broach the subject of ‘what happens next’ and to start making plans for the future.
Why is it difficult for children of aging parents to discuss the future? Although each situation is different, most of us have difficulty with the sudden reversal of roles, or we may feel like we are meddling in our parents’ private lives. There may also be a reluctance to admit that the inevitable has happened; that our parents have gotten old.
Yes, it’s a tough discussion to initiate, but remember it is never too soon to discuss the future with your aging parent. It is much easier to make plans before a crisis, such as a fall or a stroke catches you off guard. It’s much better to have a plan in place early, rather than scrambling around at the last moment.
Although this looming conversation may feel like one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do, don’t let your parent sense that. Plan your approach and timing carefully and you may be pleasantly surprised. Chances are if the subject is on your mind, it has been on your parents’ mind as well.
Start Talking About It
Just the idea of having this discussion with your parents may be enough to increase your blood pressure, but no one ever said that discussing your aging parents’ future would be easy. Most of us are used to having our parents ask the questions. Yet now, as your parents’ current or potential caregiver, it’s up to you to start asking the difficult questions.
It’s always best to sit and discuss with the parent the plan to hire homecare before actually doing so. If possible, pick a time when there is no immediate crisis and when your parent is emotionally and physically up for this discussion. Explain that while you enjoy being with your parent and being able to help, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to be able to take care of their needs correctly and still have quality time together for visiting. Parents may initially feel abandoned. like you don’t care. The parent may also feel like they have been such a tremendous burden on you that you want to push them off on someone else.
Everyone will react differently to the idea. Some will be very accepting, others will argue, some will do the guilt trip thing and others will just say no!
If the reaction you get isn’t positive, explain again why it is that you want to bring in homecare, explain your problem and then ask your parent to come up with alternative ideas. to help you! Parents are often willing to do something to benefit their children, which they would not be willing to do for themselves. It’s best not to bombard parents with a list of things they are doing “wrong” or a list of things that they are unable to do, instead a simple sentence like, “Mom, I am concerned because you are not eating properly and are losing weight,” will get a better response. Parents tend to accept the idea better if it is viewed as a luxury or benefit, something they deserve, rather than something being forced upon them because they can no longer care for themselves; “Mom, you deserve someone to come in and prepare some good meals for you,” is more likely to be met with a positive response.
It can be frustrating and it may take some time, but eventually most will come around. It’s best not to force the issue, but to be persistent.
Remember to Listen
While it’s a good idea to plan the topics you’d like to cover and the decisions and conclusions you’d like to reach, try not to make the conversation appear too prepared and scripted, this could frighten your parent. Remember – this is meant to be a conversation between two people. Your parent will likely be more accepting of a new plan if they feel they had a part in making the decision. Be prepared to listen to what your parents have to say – they may already have some pretty clear ideas of their own.
Here are some tips and pointers to help you try and make the conversation go smoothly:
- Don’t let your questions appear as though you are interrogating. If you are sensitive and show genuine interest and concern, chances are your loved one will open up to you.
- Be support ive and empathetic, not judgmental or accusatory. The last thing you want to do is appear threatening and put your parent on the defense.
- Ask open-ended questions to give your parent an opportunity to share their opinions and wishes with you.
- Have an open mind regarding your parents’ decisions and wishes, even if you find it hard to agree, remember it is their lives you are discussing.
- Don’t overwhelm with too many questions. It may take several discussions over a period of days or weeks to cover all the areas you feel are important. However, when wrapping up a conversation, be sure to make a definite time for the next discussion or there is a danger the subject will get brushed under the rug.
- This is a good time to share your thoughts and plans for your own aging. Let your parent know that she is not alone in her concerns.
Begin the Transition
Bringing a new caregiver in your home is never an easy thing. It is hard for anyone to have a stranger in their home doing the things that they have always done for themselves. Having a caregiver for your parents may be a great relief for you, but will be a difficult transition for your parent. If possible, start slow.
A good idea is to start with non-personal care, such as light house-keeping and meal preparation. There is an understandable dislike for the idea of someone coming in to help in the bathing process or even doing laundry. Such feelings are rarely expressed about someone who prepares dinner, does the dusting, and provides transportation to appointments; those things are not as personal. The parent will get used to the idea of having a caregiver and will be more responsive when the time comes for assistance with personal care.
Things that parents are reluctant to ask you to do are easily asked of the home caregiver. Also the parent will discover that you have time to spend with them when you do come for a visit, instead of rushing around trying to get everything done. Over time, you will likely find that your parents have not only become used to having the caregiver around, but they enjoy it as well; this does not happen overnight.
Often in the senior years, the parent takes on the role of the child and the child takes on the roll of the parent. Usually, this is uncomfortable for both. Bringing in homecare can help put you back in the adult/adult relationship and give you back some quality time with your parents.