Strategies for Effective Communication with Parents About Care
Are you the caregiver for your parents? Are you burnt out and need professional help? Are your parents against the help of a pro? This article focuses on strategies for effective communication with parents about care.
This last week alone, I was approached by 3 members in my network on how to effectively introduce professional care to their parents who refuse care. All of these examples are providing some sort of caregiving to their parents, but for different reasons they feel their parents deserve to be cared for by professional caregivers.
The 1st example, both parents need care and they both have Long Term Coverage (LTC) Insurance coverage. The primary caregiver is the mother who also needs care. The daughter is the part time caregiver, who herself has some health issues and has time restraints due to her work.
The 2nd example, only the dad needs care and his level of care is increasing. The mom is the primary caregiver, but is finding it harder and harder to care for her husband. They have no LTC. The son is worried that the mom will no longer be able to care for the dad or even hurt herself in the process. He visits regularly to make sure the bills are paid and that they have enough groceries.
The 3rd example is a more hands-on son. He lives with them, does the morning and evening care, goes with them to doctor’s appointments, meal prep, medication management, etc. Dad is the caregiver to mom when the son works. Both parents have LTC but care provided by family members is not reimbursable.
These 3 sets of parents all enjoy their privacy and independence and refuse to hire a caregiver, but the children are burnt out and realize it’s time to delegate the care to skilled caregivers.
Preparing Your Approach
It is not uncommon for our aging parents to become upset, dismissive, and even combative when the subject of an in-home caregiver comes up. It is a response stemming from the fears, concerns, and insecurities many seniors feel regarding their ability to care for themselves. It can be overwhelming for adult children to navigate these necessary, albeit uncomfortable, conversations with their parents.
While it may seem as if there are a dozen reasons not to broach the subject with your parents who have already emphatically stated they are not open to home care, the reasons to make this a priority are greater.
Taking a positive and realistic approach to helping your parents accept the need for a professional caregiver will improve the overall quality of life for all family members involved. Having respite care in place gives us more time to dedicate to what really matters—creating important memories with our loved ones.
Facing the Inevitable
Strategies for effective communication with parents about Care.
Let’s face it, no one would be thrilled about major changes to their lifestyle and routine. While the need for change may seem obvious to those on the outside looking in, aging parents in need of more help are often struggling to come to terms with their new reality.
Of course, as their child, you want to return the care that your parents provided you throughout your life.
What happens when you aren’t able to handle this responsibility on your own? How do you convince your own caretakers that they would benefit by having someone step in to help care for them? Someone who isn’t you but a professional.
If it’s an option to plan ahead and avoid last minute decisions in regard to your parent’s care, take the necessary steps to do so. If you can take some time to proactively create a home care plan with your parents early on, they may feel much more comfortable with the change when the time comes.
Advanced planning may not always be realistic. Life happens and plans can change drastically despite our best efforts. When faced with short-notice home care planning, involve your parents in this process. Work with a professional, schedule a consultation with a homecare case manager, and ensure your parents are able to take part in creating a care plan that feels right for everyone. Also see additional AARP resource article. This may mean contacting an elder law attorney or even a financial advisor who can help determine what insurance they may benefit from or, how to best plan for their financial needs as they get older.
When Parents Need a Little More Convincing
If your parent is still resisting the idea of having a paid caregiver come into their home, it may be beneficial to make the change gradually. Many seniors are wary of paid care, feeling as if they are relinquishing their independence. If we introduce help in small doses, it will be much more palatable to steadfast parents.
Take note of areas in which your parents may be needing some additional assistance. Whether it is more so as “help” around the house in terms of lifestyle support or perhaps some more hands-on personal care that may be required.
Incrementally increasing the level of care they receive from a caregiver can help build confidence and give them time to become more comfortable with a stranger coming into their familiar space to help them throughout their day.
A home care aide will often come to be viewed as an extension of the preexisting familial care system. A bond develops between the caregiver, the client, and the family members invested in their parent’s care. This makes the transition to a more involved care plan much easier on elderly parents.
A final approach to helping convince parents to open up to the idea of in-home care is to explain that you are feeling the pressures and effects of caregiver stress. Having help is beneficial to everyone in the family and ensures there are no gaps in the quality of care provided.
It is easy to get lost within the responsibilities of caring for our aging parents. Remember, they are not maliciously resisting the help you know they need; they are doing so as a result of the fears and emotions that rightfully come with getting older.
Be compassionate, patient, and empathetic. Ensure your parents know you want them to receive the best possible care. Explain that you want, and need, to take care of your own needs. Ultimately, you want to focus on spending quality time together and in-home caregivers can make that a reality.
CIRCLE OF CARE, LLC
Cheri Platte is a Home Care expert, longtime professional consultant for family caregivers, and compassionate advocate for the elderly. As the Managing Director for Circle of Care, headquartered in San Juan Capistrano CA, her responsibilities include the development of resources that support families and provide individual home care solutions that care for their loved ones. She’s on a mission to educate the public on the benefits of home care and home health, help families develop individual care plans, and help them plan for the advanced stages of aging. Cheri and the Circle of Care team are dedicated to making a meaningful difference in your family’s life.