December 6, 2020

conversations-about-coping at home

How do I initiate a conversation about accepting help?

Put yourself in the shoes of your ageing loved one for a moment.

Imagine being told that you are not coping any more. You have been independent all your adult life, had a career, raised a family, and managed a household. Now your adult children are questioning your ability to manage your daily tasks. They are telling you that you aren’t coping.

How would you feel if this conversation was directed at you?

This conversation is one that we are asked about often. How to start a conversation with an elderly loved one about their limitations and increasing dependence on family.

There is no doubt that as we age, we are going to need help. This is a very sensitive topic for many elderly people, and the approach taken to having that conversation with your ageing loved one can make a huge difference to how accepting they are of allowing help to occur.

You’ve identified that your ageing loved one needs help, what's next?

Now it is time to raise the subject.

This is where the approach you use will determine how your ageing loved one will receive your well intentioned concern.

Choose the time and place to broach the subject carefully. When the family is gathered around the table enjoying Christmas dinner is definitely not the right time. Nor are any other busy social gatherings or places of public domain, think during a GP consultation or during a visit to a friend's home.

What you need is some quiet, private time with your loved one/s. Start with just the two of you, or you and both your ageing parents.

If you want to have this discussion with your parent/s and you have siblings, nominate just one of you to initiate the conversation. If all the siblings join in, your parent/s may feel ambushed and this immediately has a negative effect.

Start by asking them some questions, not telling them all the things you have noticed they are struggling with. Your ageing loved one needs to be part of the conversation to accept help going forward. Remember, they have been independent in their own home for years. They do not want that to change.

Reassure them that you love them and want what is best for them. Offer to help them with any planning going forward. Do not assume they know how to access services and support. Much of this will be overwhelming for them and they may push back and get upset. Do not fight with them.

This conversation will be the beginning of many more conversations to come, regarding their continued independence and ability to live well in their own home.

What if this conversation doesn't go so well?

If this initial conversation doesn't go so well, don't despair, your ageing loved one will need time and ongoing reassurance to be accepting of outside help. If you think it's time to initiate this conversation with your ageing loved one/s, then it is. Don't delay.

The time taken to introduce the idea of formal services and support, the time it takes to go through the My Aged Care assessment processes and time it takes to access services and support can be lengthy.

The most important thing is to Start this Conversation Now.

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