How to Start the Conversation About Receiving In-Home Care
By: Connor Kunz | Resources

Feeling that a parent or other elderly loved needs in-home care, but nervous to start the conversation?

You’re not alone.

While home care has made a significant, positive impact in the lives of millions, it’s an emotionally charged topic and can feel like a massive step to take. Many seniors or their families may be reluctant to seek outside help for care.

If you feel that a loved one needs in-home care, you’ll need to talk about it with them in a way that helps everyone feel comfortable, respected, and heard so that together you can make the best decision possible. Here are some tips in having that conversation:

Start the conversation sooner rather than later. If you feel confident that this change needs to happen, don’t put off talking about it! This gives you time to consider all the options at a pace that won’t add any additional emotional strain. It will also give you more time to properly evaluate the financial side of the decision.

Choose a comfortable time and place. With high-stakes conversations, it’s important to control whatever outside factors you can that might distract or add stress. Make sure that you start the conversation at a time and place when everyone, especially the family member in question, is comfortable and relaxed.

Have the conversation in person if at all possible. Even if you live somewhere else, it’s worth the plane ticket to visit them directly. There are many reasons why this is important. For one thing, an important conversation like this will be easier if you are able to read the body language and facial expressions of the other person. Talking over the phone may cause you to miss nuances of their communication that show how they really feel about it.

Perhaps more importantly, going to your loved one in person will demonstrate how much you care about them and reinforce that you want what is best for them. It will start the conversation off on the right foot and make it easier for you to show that their priorities are your priorities.

Take it slow. You don’t need to reach a decision in one sitting. It’s better to bring it up, discuss it, and then give everyone a little time to sit on the idea and think about it rather than to try to force a decision or rush into a conclusion.

Listen carefully and restate your loved one’s thoughts to clarify that you understand. They probably have a number of concerns—some obvious to you initially and some more difficult to anticipate. Misunderstanding concerns or priorities can slow down or derail the whole conversation.

To ensure that you’re on the same page, you can practice restating their thoughts. You might say something like, “Help me make sure I understand you right. You’re saying that your main concern is with having someone who you don’t know in your house with you regularly?” If you missed something, have them tell you again until you can accurately restate their concerns.

This will help them to feel heard and validated, and it will help you to know how best to help them with their concerns.

Don’t tell them what to do. Instead, try this process to help you reach a decision together.

  • Lay out the problem as you see it, including specific instances that you believe demonstrate the need for in-home care.
  • Share the possible solutions as you see them, and explain why you believe those are the only available solutions. Explain the benefits of in-home care and the ways that you think it will make things easier for them.
  • Ask for their thoughts on what you’ve said and listen carefully.

With all the information on the table, you can work toward a good solution together. This will help your loved one feel empowered rather than manipulated.

Consider consulting with a senior care professional to evaluate all your options. A professional can bring needed insight and solve many of your questions simply and quickly. Senior advising services typically serve a local area and can be found easily online with a search of nearby senior care advisors.

Talk about finances openly and make a plan of how to pay for care, but don’t rush into this part of the discussion. This part of the conversation may bring extra strain, so ensure that your loved one is comfortable with the idea of home care before plunging into the financial side of things.

Turning a Negative Conversation Into a Positive One

It’s easy for negative emotions like fear, stress, guilt, and suspicion to take root. As you talk to your loved one about receiving in-home care, you can help everyone feel better and keep the conversation running smoothly by being sensitive to emotional needs.

Talk about common priorities, validate your loved one’s worries and needs, and avoid using guilt at all costs. Aim for clear communication and demonstrate how much you care about them by listening. Above all, they should know that the reason you’re having this conversation is because you care.

About the Author - Connor Kunz
Connor Kunz
A writer, communicator, and people enthusiast, Connor's lifelong affinity for words dates back to kindergarten, when he dictated rather odd stories about talking animals for his older siblings to write down and illustrate. Today, Connor is grateful for the opportunity to use his skills to advance services that improve lives. When he's not working, you can find Connor hiking in a national park with his wife. 
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