When an elderly relative is in need of care, family members often take up the responsibility of organising the support they require. This change of dynamic in relationship can be a difficult time and it is essential to discuss care with your relative and the other people involved ahead of time. These might not be easy conversations and it is one which is often sensitive and complex but you’ll be relieved to have had this discussion before care is needed. Conversations may not just be about their personal care, social care and convenience care, but emotional care too.

Here are some of our top tips so that you can have the most productive conversation possible.

1.   Plan the conversation

It’s important to plan the conversation. Consider what you want to discuss, who should be there, and where and when should you do it. Knowing what you need to discuss beforehand can make sure that you have a focus to the conversation and ensure you discuss the relevant care options. Involving other family members and friends, such as siblings and grandchildren, who’ll be involved in their care can help create a better picture about the care plan and care outcomes. Furthermore, discussing care in a place that is familiar and comfortable for your parents can encourage a more positive conversation.

2.   Discuss the options sooner rather than later

Discussing your parents’ care options before they need care can remove some of the pressure and uncertainty that accompanies this decision later on. You want to be able to help them live well for longer, but you need to make sure this doesn’t come at the expense of your own health, therefore considering the options available and making the decisions ahead of time can help ensure any future care plans meet everyone’s needs. Your parents may also be in denial that they need care. Talking about care early on can give them more time to make these difficult decisions and also ensure that everyone is aware of the future decisions to be made.

3.   Understand their requirements

It’s important to know what type of care your parent is likely to need. Try and understand how your parent is managing at the moment with things like washing, eating and their social life. Keep an eye on their mobility and memory. Doing things like going for short walks or testing their memory by gently asking general knowledge questions or asking them to tell you about their day can help flag up any issues. Without knowing what they need help with, it might be difficult to provide the care that they need and deserve.

4.  Listen to what they want and need

Some questions you should consider might be: What are your parents’ main concerns regarding care? What do they want? What do they need? Discussing their preferences and the options available will allow you to provide the care that best suits them. Try to find out their main concerns, such as fear of losing independence. It’s important to consider the opinions and emotions of all parties involved and to discuss the care options and decisions to be made – from simple things like helping with meals to deciding if it’s time to help washing and dressing.

5.   Be patient

Your parents will probably want to maintain control of their lives, but there will be elements that are not only out of their control, but out of yours too. Therefore, being honest about how you can practically help is important. You may also feel impatient or frustrated at your parent’s situation but they may find it equally frustrating to at the thought of giving up their independence, especially if you’re their primary carer and live far away.  You should be patient and take your time to discuss all of the options and give your parents the chance to think things over. Lastly, remember to remain calm and positive throughout these conversations with your loved ones.

6.  Consider the options

The options available to your parent will vary considerably depending on their individual needs. These needs may also change in the future, so it’s important to consider the different scenarios that may arise. Where possible, you should include them in the discussions and listen to their choices to ensure they are happy with any decisions that are made.

We hope that these tips have helped you approach the subject of care with your parents a little easier. If you think Connected Health can help you with your care provision, be sure to reach out to us to learn more about our wide variety of homecare services across Ireland and the UK.