Although you might recognize that Mom or Dad would really benefit from having more help at home or making modifications to their environment, they may not see it that way. Having that initial conversation can certainly be tough, as admitting and accepting help or making change is hard for anyone. Here are some tips to broach the topic with your loved one:
Pick the right environment
First, try to have the conversation one-on-one - or perhaps with maybe one other person present - as having an 'intervention style' conversation with a whole group can feel like an attack. Also, choose a quiet place free of distractions and a time of day when your loved one is content (not tired, hungry, feeling rushed before the next activity).
Use “I” statements
No one likes to be accused of anything, so be sure to speak on your own experience or observation. Phrases like, "I notice it is takes you longer than usual to get dressed in the morning and that you hold on to the furniture when you walk," sounds a lot better than, "You take forever to get dressed it the morning and your balance is terrible."
Stick to the facts
Stick to facts and observations, try not to make general statements or assumptions. Saying, "I notice that you left the stove on by accident twice in the past month," holds a lot more weight than saying, "You are forgetful and unsafe to be cooking by yourself."
Point out how the facts affect you or make you feel
Using the examples from above, saying things like, "I am worried that your balance isn’t as good as it used to be. I am worried that it is affecting your ability to dress yourself. I am afraid of you having a fall and injuring yourself," and "I am worried that a fire will start or you would burn yourself if you forgot to turn the stove off again," are ways to convey your feelings.
Offer a realistic solution
After pointing out the issue in a factual manner and how it affects you, you are now ready to broach the topic of hiring caregivers, making environmental modifications, etc. Be specific with your solutions. For example, "I think we should hire a caregiver 2-4 hours a day five days a week to assist you with dressing and homemaking," or, "I think we should install two grab bars in the shower to reduce the risk of falls."
Your loved one will most likely have a personal opinion on the matter, and they have a right to be heard. Hear their concerns and their perspective, without interrupting and without getting defensive.
Emphasize your role as advocate
Remind your loved one that you want their wishes and desires to be met, and that this is important to you. Remind them that you want them to continue to age in place, and that you need their help to make that happen.
Speak to a medical professional
If the conversation doesn’t go as well as you had hoped, speak to Mom or Dad’s doctor or another medical professional about your concerns. Sometimes our loved ones are more willing to listen to the unbiased opinion and recommendation of a medical professional than those closest to them.
We hope that you found this post helpful for communicating concerns with Mom or Dad regarding their needs and their care, so that they can continue to age in place!
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