Breaking the News: Telling a Loved One They Need Care

How do you talk to a relative about getting help?

Growing old is something that happens to us all. We all want the best for our loved ones but ensuring that they are well cared for as they get older can be a challenge, especially when you’re balancing work and home life with providing the level of care or help they need. Sometimes we need a little support.

Your loved one may be struggling to carry out some of the everyday tasks that we take for granted, they may be struggling with declining health, recovering from a stroke or may have just come out of hospital and need a little care that you and your family just aren’t able to handle on your own.

Although having the conversation with a parent or older relative can seem like a hard topic to broach, especially as many people are independent and don’t want to ask for help, it’s important to discuss in order to secure the best possible care to meet their changing needs with both dignity and respect. In fact this is something that we have often considered and we wanted to distil the advice we have been given and the advice we give to others when asked.

Every situation is unique and it is important to consider but the below tips can help as a starting point to initiate the conversation.

Do your research. Find what the options for care are to help determine what would best suit your relative and their needs. There are a number of levels of care available and an assessment for a live-in care or resident care provider can help you make the right choice. For many people, the option of being able to remain in their own home is preferable to having to leave their familiar surroundings and neighbourhood.

Have a family get together. Go out for lunch and make it a family occasion or have a chat over a cup of tea – whatever works best for your family. Be sensitive in your approach as it can be a difficult subject for everyone involved.

Decide as a family how to broach itThink about how your parent might feel and what your responses should be – come armed with solutions. If you know that your parent won’t want to leave their home and familiar environment then research care options that would suit them. If it is your parent you are worried about then it is good to have a chat with your siblings and see what they think. It is likely that everyone has been worrying about the same thing and said nothing because they didn’t want to say the wrong thing.

Put yourself in their shoes. Think about how you would feel if you were the one being told you needed care and structure the conversation with this in mind.

Start with difficulties they are having. Start by discussing the things they are finding difficult and then suggest that they may benefit from some assistance.

Clearly explain the different options. It is not necessarily a case of sending your loved one to live in a care home. It may be that live in care options are more suitable allowing for your loved one to maintain their home and their independence while still receiving the care they need.

Continue to talk. If your loved one hasn’t been willing to accept any help, persist with patient, respectful suggestions. Tell your parent honestly you’re worried and why. Most importantly, keep trying. Aging loved ones may eventually realize that you have their best interests at heart.

Enlist help. If you are really worried and you feel you are getting nowhere then enlist some help from someone else. An old friend may hold more sway in convincing a parent to think about quality of life and their safety or there are professional services that can help you.

These tips are just a starting point, it is important to pay attention to the needs of your loved one.

Before pushing too hard for them to accept help, try to understand that we all see ourselves as younger than we really are.

About the Author

This post was written by Richard Mckenzie who is a manager at Promedica24, provider of live in care services. To read more on what live in care is and how it may be a better alternative to a care home click here.

  • Guest

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  • Guest

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    [...] on Person Needing Care – the individual needing care will need some time to adjust to the new arrangement.  They may have recently lost a loved one or [...]

  • Callie Marie

    My grandma has been showing early signs of dementia and my parents want to hire a supported living service. Thanks for the advice about breaking the news to her. I think we should start by nicely pointing out the struggles she has had living on her own, like when she hurt her shoulder trying to vacuum. http://genacta.com/services/in-home-support-supported-living/