Clinical Psychologist Jo Lamble talks about how to tackle the delicate subject of putting your loved ones in a home care arrangement.
Why home care?
Research shows that 87 per cent of older Australians want to stay independent and live in their own home for as long as they can.
Home care services, either funded by the government or privately, can help your loved ones remain independent and stay in their homes longer.
Talking to your family and friends about the options available to help them stay at home is crucial. However, we know it’s easy to put off these conversations because we think they might be difficult. These conversations may be uncomfortable, but they are very important.
Why have the conversation?
There are proven benefits for older people living at home and maintaining their independence.
It’s important to understand their preferences and support them to make informed decisions. If you know what your loved one wishes, you can help them no matter where they are on their healthcare journey.
When to have the conversation?
The answer is now.
Unfortunately, the conversation is inevitable. Due to feelings of discomfort, families often don’t have these conversations before serious health issues arise. They end up having to make decisions without understanding their loved one’s wishes. Even if your parents don’t need help at home now, they may in the future.
Who should have the conversation?
It can be confronting for an ageing person to be faced with the entire family talking to them about their future needs. It’s a good idea to consider who is the best person to lead the conversations and report back to everyone else.
How can you prepare?
Preparing for the conversation should include doing some research so you have some basic information about the home care options available. If your loved one is open to the conversation, they will have questions. You may not be able to answer all of them instantly, but this will give you a great opportunity to revisit the conversation once you do have the answers.
How can you start the conversation?
It is important to reassure your loved one that you want to find out what they think, and that you are there to listen, not control.
Look for opportunities to start the conversation. For example, “I love you and I really want to understand what you think and how you feel,” or “Have you ever thought about what you’d need to help you stay living here at home?” This will help to ease into the conversation about home care.
What if your loved one is not keen to have the conversation?
If you do get push back with regards to the conversation, acknowledge what you see and add a layer of empathy between each statement.
“I can see this is upsetting you and I understand that you may not want to talk about this. I am only asking because I care about you and want to make sure I understand your wishes so that you can stay at home as long as possible.”
If your first discussion doesn’t go well, don’t give up and make sure you try again later. Time between conversations gives your loved one an opportunity to consider and reflect on what you are trying to talk to them about.
Closing the conversation
It is likely that you will have several conversations with your loved one. On each occasion, gently try to get agreement on the next steps, even if the next steps are to revisit the conversation a few weeks later.
Written by Jo Lamble, Clinical Psychologist in partnership with www.myhomecare.com.au