Talking About Senior Home Care: Tips for Approaching a Tough Subject

elderly woman sits with caregiver
Talking about senior homecare can be tough, but it must be done.
Image source: Flickr user Ulrich Joho

No one wants to admit they’re less independent than they used to be. When I was a social services professional, the seniors in my care were always very reluctant to ask for help. Whether it was getting a glass or water or telling a nurse or aide they were in pain, many people would rather keep suffering to themselves than admit needing assistance – even if declining to ask placed them in harm’s way. This is why, when senior home care becomes inevitable, it’s often a conversation that gets pushed aside for months – or even years.

But delaying such conversations can be downright dangerous for your elderly loved one. Denying them the home care they need – or allowing them to continue without it – can put them at risk for injury, illness, and deteriorating medical conditions – including depression.

Wait for the right time

One quick tip is to approach the discussion of senior home care when your loved is calm, well-rested, and at a time that is convenient for them. They’ll be much more agreeable to listening to what you have to say, and won’t automatically reject your suggestions because they’re tired, in a bad mood, or about to watch their favorite television program.

Don’t be confrontational

Unless your senior loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s, or some kind of cognitive impairment, it’s likely they are capable of making their own decisions – both intellectually and legally. Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that an arrangement such as home care cannot be forced on your loved one. However, in these situations, it can sometimes feel as such to the senior.

This is why it’s so important not to be confrontational when bringing up senior home care. If your loved one repeatedly rejects the suggestion, avoid saying things like, “But you know it’s the right thing to do!” or, “Even after all the reasons I listed, you still don’t think you need it?” Simply accept their decision for now, and end with, “I appreciate you talking to me about this. I hope you’re open to talking about it in the future if things change, or if you change your mind.”

Give the senior control

Phrases like, “It’s your decision,” and, “We’re just talking about possibilities,” give the senior a sense of control over their future. They’re not left under the impression that someone else is taking over their life, leaving them with no choice in the matter. A sense of control is very important when it comes to deciding things like senior home care, because people are more likely to support and participate in ideas they choose.

Don’t delay talking about senior home care

Remember –  no matter how independent a person is during their younger years – we all need help at some point. It’s best to start talking about senior home care earlier rather than later. This way, you may be able to avoid a situation in which the senior feels home care is being forced on them, rather than making the decision themselves. By broaching the subject with compassion and understanding, you’ll allow your senior to feel a sense of ownership and hope regarding their future.

If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.

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2 thoughts on “Talking About Senior Home Care: Tips for Approaching a Tough Subject

  1. Transportation is a key issue for older adults. Maybe you’re finding it hard to drive or don’t like to drive at night. Investigating transportation options can help you keep your independence and maintain your social network.

  2. You’re absolutely right, Julia! The Institute on Aging offers escorted transportation for this exact reason. We know how hard it is for seniors to find transportation to keep doctor appointments, go on errands, and stay in touch with friends. Thanks for chiming in!

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