Talking about aged care can be difficult for families because it often involves a mix of fear and guilt. For the person who might be finding day-to-day tasks increasingly difficult, there is the fear of losing their independence and becoming a burden. And for family such as spouses or adult children, there can be guilt around not being able to support their loved one as well as they might like.
The good news is that home care services can allay these worries, allowing people to remain independent in their own home for as long as possible, and adding to the supports provided by family members so everyone can have peace of mind.
Here are some tips for starting the conversation about home care services.
Start the conversation while your loved ones are still in good health, if at all possible. Understand what their plans for the future are, and how they might like to tackle things should problems crop up. You might like to encourage your loved one to complete an Advance Health Directive, which documents their instructions about their future health care. If a problem occurs – a fall at home, or a job too big to handle, raise the subject and see if they would be open to accepting some help in the home. Don’t wait until a crisis happens, when it can be difficult for everyone to make decisions.
If you are talking to a parent or spouse about ageing, a face-to-face conversation is often the best way to discuss whether help at home might be beneficial. Remember that it’s normal to be scared when we are vulnerable, and your loved one may be fearful of becoming a burden or losing their independence. For some there is a mistaken belief that after leading independent, robust lives, accepting help is a sign of weakness. Be sensitive about their concerns. Be patient and revisit the conversation at a later date if it is upsetting.
Remind your loved one that home care services can make life easier and safer for them. For instance, allowing someone else to do the tasks your loved one may find difficult, such as cleaning or shopping, means they have more time to do what they love. If your loved one can no longer drive, home care services can help them to get out and about. If they struggle with personal care, such as showering, a little bit of assistance can keep them feeling good about themselves.
For adult children, knowing their parents have home care services can relieve some of the stresses of juggling work and family commitments while trying to make sure their Mum or Dad are safe and well. Home care services allow parents to remain independent in their own home for as long as possible and give back precious quality time to families so their relationships do not have to change.
One way to get your loved one to feel more comfortable about help at home is to encourage them to get involved in a service provider’s social or exercise activities.
At Blue Care, we have services to help people feel more connected to the community, as well as men’s groups and carers’ support groups. Getting to know people in these groups can help your loved one feel more at ease with the idea of receiving help in their home.
A care provider can also explain what other home care services are available, which can help your loved one understand that they can continue to live life their way.
While it’s not always easy, having the conversation is an important first step in making sure your loved one can remain independent at home for as long as possible.