There reaches a time in most of our lives when it is time to talk to about care options with your parent or parents.
It might be that you have noticed one parent becoming less independent, or maybe they are having more little incidents around the home.
Whatever your motivation for thinking it is time to discuss the options, it can be a difficult conversation to start.
Here are our tips for talking about care options with your parents.
Admitting It To Yourself
It can be difficult to accept that your parents are getting old and need care.
In a way, that is the last link to our younger selves, and the balance of power and care is shifting rapidly. It is distressing to imagine our parents getting old and, ultimately dying, so pretending it isn’t happening seems like an option.
But it isn’t, and the sooner you can admit it to yourself the better and safer it will be for your parent.
Maybe you have noticed some small changes in behaviour that have led you to question how independent your parents really are. Perhaps they are more forgetful, or often look lost during conversations.
Or maybe the early warning signs are physical. Perhaps they are suddenly tripping up over a rug that has always been there or spilling their dinner down themselves when they used to be such neat eaters.
You know your parents best and you will be able to spot changes in behaviour, perhaps even better than they can. Trust your instinct.
It is better to intervene early, as it can take a while to get appointments arranged, changes made, granny annexes built, or care put in place.
The worst-case scenario is they become so infirm that before you can get an appointment made with the council, they fall and seriously hurt themselves, or leave the gas oven on and start a fire, for example.
The best-case scenario is you get the wheels in motion to ensure their safety and continued independence.
Do The Groundwork
It is likely that when you do talk to your parents about their options for care, you are met with at least a little resistance.
No one would like to be told they are physically or mentally less able.
You might find that your statements are met with relief, as they themselves have noticed changes and are worried. Parents tend not to tell their children they are sick or scared, no matter how old their child is.
But it is better to prepare for a bit of protestation.
You want to be able to give them solid examples of times when the worrying behaviour has occurred. You don’t have to turn into Columbo and list of dates and times, but having a few recent examples to back up your assertions will go a long way.
Maybe they said something uncharacteristically inappropriate at a family gathering, or have recently fallen over with no real trigger.
Having a few bits of anecdotal evidence will help the conversation along.
Similarly, have a few ideas in your back pocket. That’s not to say book an appointment with the social services before you speak to them but knowing the next steps you could hypothetically take will reassure them that it is not something they have to undertake alone.
Recruit The Troops
You do not want to gang up on your parent/s to have this conversation but having a bit of morale support will be beneficial.
A sibling, aunt or uncle can be helpful here, or even your other parent. If you have many siblings, you might want to pick one or two, so it doesn’t seem like an assault.
If your other parent is still independent and you will specifically be talking to one parent, you should certainly try to have a quiet word with the other parent to give them a bit of forewarning, even if you can’t get them on board.
Talking To Your Parents About Future Care
When having the conversation with your parents about elderly care options, make sure you pick a time when none of you are rushed or stressed.
Use phrases like ‘I feel’ and ‘I am worried that’ instead of ‘you are’. This will reassure your parent that you have their best interests at heart and aren’t accusing them.
Make suggestions, as opposed to decisions, so that your parents are still in control of what happens to them. Even if they have fairly advanced cognitive impairment, they should still feel like they involved in what is happening.
Present them with a range of options and discuss the benefit and drawbacks of each. A granny annexe, for example, will allow them to live near you but still retain their independence.
Be intuitive to how the conversation is going. If your parent is becoming upset or stressed, no positive decision will be taken, so consider resuming the subject on a different day. This may allow them to come at it with a fresh perspective, having had time to think it over.
But if possible, seek to determine some next steps.
Get In Touch
If you and your parents would like to discuss the option of having a custom built granny annexe, give us a call on 0808 164 1111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.