8 September 2017
Top tips for broaching the subject of care with your loved ones
Discussing care with your loved ones is a delicate subject and needs to be handled carefully. Nobody likes to be reminded that they are getting older, and admitting that we need help can be the hardest part of all. However, if you’ve started noticing signs that your loved one may not be coping as well as they used to, it’s only right that the subject of professional help is discussed openly and honestly.
Starting the discussion isn’t easy, particularly if your loved one is fiercely independent. Emotions can run high, and it can be tempting to avoid the conversation altogether, but this is only likely to make the situation worse. Here are some tips to help you get started in the most loving, supportive way possible.
Preparing to talk
Choose a time when your relative will be most responsive to a chat. Make sure they are comfortable and allow plenty of time; you don’t want the conversation to be interrupted because you have to rush to work or they have a visitor arrive.
It’s usually a good idea to talk in your relative’s home, as this is where they feel most comfortable. Try to limit the number of people involved, as descending on your loved one with all your siblings and spouses in tow is only going to make them panic. If you are a close family, it can be good to decide together if the time is right for the conversation, and who is best placed to initiate the chat.
Think about what you’re going to say, and approach the subject with tact and care. If you have specific concerns, or if the issue has been raised by healthcare professionals, now is the time to make sure you prepare all of the information you might need.
If the conversation is around the prospect of your relative moving into a care home, it’s a good idea to have brochures or leaflets handy, so that you can show your relative what their options are.
Starting the conversation
It’s crucial to ensure your relative feels that this is a two-way conversation. Talking about care inevitably means some adjustments in their life, so they need to feel they are involved and have the right to steer the decisions for themselves.
Keep the conversation light and loving. Have a chat over tea and a biscuit, and try not to be too grave about the situation. Although you may feel worried or anxious, it’s important that you talk to your relative in the same manner you would about any other subject. Be warm, smile and have open body language to help them feel more comfortable.
With a tricky subject like this, it is perfectly possible that things could become tense. Your loved one may shut you down instantly, with a refusal to talk, or they may become angry with you. These are all natural and perfectly valid responses, which may improve once they’ve had time to let it sink in. Try not to get emotional in return; stay calm, empathise with them and give them time to think things through. Chances are they’ll be more open to the conversation once they’ve had time to adjust.
Throughout the process, approach everything from a position of love, care and kindness. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and understand that what you’re suggesting could have a huge impact on their lives. Ensure they feel heard, respected and in control, and take things as slowly as necessary to avoid them becoming panicked.
With time, you and your loved one will undoubtedly be able to agree on a solution that works well for everyone. Don’t put off having the conversation through fear of their reaction; things will only get more difficult as time goes on.
For more advice, contact your nearest care home today