Help! Talking to your parents about home care

It’s 5:30, you just left the office and know that your day is not over. In fact, it’s far from over. The kids have baseball and soccer practices, there is homework to help with, gym uniforms to be washed, and who knows what’s for supper. While you sort through the dinner options from what you think is in the fridge, your phone rings.
By Home Care Assistance - March 29, 2019

Home Care Assistance Montreal is the only home care solution offering an innovative, science-based approach to aging. We elevate the standard of care for seniors everywhere. In “Care Diaries” we feature heartfelt stories from Canadians telling their current life stories about the reality of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.

It’s Mom. Dad has an appointment tomorrow morning and needs you to drive him. And can you swing by on the way home? They have pressed the wrong button on the TV remote and can’t figure out how to fix it. The TV is all “snowy” and he can’t miss the big game tonight. There aren’t enough minutes in your day, but you call home, say you’ll be a little late and reroute to Mom and Dad’s.

Of course, you are happy to help, they are your parents. They have done and given everything to you when you needed it, but you are running there more and more. You have mentioned to them many times about getting some additional help, but they are adamant that they are “ok” and are “managing just fine”, but you know that they aren’t. Why won’t they accept care?

Private in-home care doesn’t come without some financial commitment, but surprisingly cost is typically not one of the main obstacles to having your parents accept help. If they have the means and have the need, why won’t they get the help?

Parents who are losing autonomy may be struggling with their new “role”. They have always been the one to take care of their families and now they can’t. Never having depended on anyone and then suddenly needing help, is a tough pill to swallow. Pride, frustration and embarrassment all get in the way of the real issue - they need help.

There may also be a fear of the unknown and a worry about loss of control that might be coming into play. They don’t want a strange person coming into their home and changing the way they do things. What will they do while they are at the home? How will they know how your parents like things? Will they come in and take over the household? These are all valid points that add to the reticence that someone might be feeling when considering home care.

While the arguments are numerous, there are strategies to try to overcome them.

The first step is to set up a family meeting. Casually dropping a comment here and there that you think your parents need help, is not enough. Together with your siblings, set some time aside, sit down with a cup of coffee and have a real talk about what’s going on and why you are concerned. Be prepared for the rebuttal – this won’t be an easy conversation.  Be honest! Remember that they are your parents. Their nature is to want to help and take care of you, so appeal to that! Tell them that you are worried and that it would help you so much if they were to get some help. This approach makes their decision less about them needing help and more about them helping you.

Remind your parents that home care is not about removing their autonomy, but more about enhancing their quality of life. Recall the activities that they used to do, but not longer can. Maybe Mom used to love her knitting club, but ever since Dad stopped driving, she can’t get there. Perhaps Dad would love to go golfing but feels guilty leaving Mom behind for the day. Having home care can help with these situations!

While your arguments may be strong, expect that your parents will not accept right away. The key here, is that you have planted the seed. Let it sit and let them think and discuss together. The decision to accept help needs to be theirs… and it will come.

Once the door is open and the conversation has started, you will want to do your homework and identify a home care company that satisfies your parents’ needs and understands that their apprehension is valid. This is not the time to settle! Your home care company should take the time to meet with you and your parents, understand what the issues are and choose the right person for them.

Rest assured that with time, patience and the right approach, your parents will accept a solution that is best for everyone.

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