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How to Start The Caregiving Conversation

Talking with aging relatives about the need for care and support at home can be challenging. There are ways to approach this topic with understanding while maintaining dignity and respect.

Talking with your parents or other aging relatives about the need for care and support at home can be challenging. This is especially true for children who may feel like their role in the relationship has been reversed as they have taken on increased responsibility for their aging parents. While this conversation is never an easy one, there are ways to approach this topic with compassion and understanding while maintaining dignity and respect.

  • Start the conversation early – don’t wait
    It is never too soon to talk about wishes, preferences, and desires when it comes to personal care and support. Waiting until the need for help has become urgent can lead to hurried, emotional decisions and poor outcomes for everyone.
  • Choose a comfortable time and place
    Avoid having this conversation in public places, like a doctor’s office waiting room or emergency room. Choose a time and place for the conversation in comfortable, familiar surroundings. The living room or kitchen table of the family home is often the best choice.
  • Enlist other supportive family members
    Don’t shoulder the entire burden yourself. Ask other family members to get involved, especially if they have a good relationship with the person who is in need of additional care and support.
  • Gather important records and documents
    This can be an emotionally charged conversation, but it is important to collect some basic information about your loved ones’ personal affairs. Discuss about wills, powers of attorney, advanced directives, and other important information that you will need should the health of your loved one begin to change. If these provisions aren’t already in place, address the need to make these decisions now so your loved ones control these outcomes, not anyone else.
  • Listen
    Use good communication skills throughout the conversation.  Resist the temptation to take over the discussion. It is helpful to ask open-ended questions that encourage your loved one to openly discuss how they are feeling about their circumstances without any judgment being made. Ask what their desires are, don’t assume.  Show respect and approach the discussion as a partner, not as the person “in charge” or responsible for take over decision-making.
  • Don’t dictate what someone should do
    Approach this situation with a collaborative attitude, seeking practical decisions that everyone can support. Don’t push and don’t dictate. Offer options and ask your family members about their preferences. Being completely involved in the decision making process ensures acceptance of the outcome from both a practical and emotional point of view. 
  • Seek expert help
    You don’t have to do this all on your own. Go to sources such as family members, close friends, and if necessary expert home care professionals who have many years of training and experience in providing services.  The team at InTouch at Home can get involved in the conversation if you need help and guidance whether before, during, or after – or all three.

InTouch at Home is a Senior Resource Group (SRG), LLC company. Serving the needs of seniors and their families for more than 20 years, SRG delivers on the promise of exceptional service and quality care each and every day through its 18 communities including La Vida Real in Rancho San Diego and La Vida Del Mar. Now through InTouch at Home, this same outstanding care and service is available to you in your home, wherever it may be. For more information, call 858-522-9942 or visit InTouch-at-Home.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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