How to Have the “Living Room Conversation” When Your Senior Loved One Needs Help
There’s always a moment when you realize your elderly loved one needs help. Maybe it’s the day they can’t make their bed or you notice them struggling to get around the house. It could be something as simple as realizing that grandpa is spending all his time in front of the TV instead of spending time on his favorite hobbies. That’s when you know it’s time to have a discussion with your loved one about aging in place and long-term care options such as assisted living facilities and home health aides. We call this the “living room conversation”.
The hard part is having this conversation because many seniors are reluctant to think about getting old, let alone talk about what will happen if they’re no longer able to take care of themselves. You may feel like you’re upsetting them or that you’re forcing them to face a difficult reality, but it’s important to have the discussion sooner rather than later, before a health emergency forces the issue.
So, how do you begin such a challenging conversation?
Approach is Everything
The most important thing to remember is that you must approach the conversation in a calm and understanding manner, taking into account your loved one’s feelings and concerns. They’re likely gradually sensing a loss of control already and it’s important to keep in mind that people in this generation pride themselves on being self-sufficient. Because of this, they may be more resistant to accept or recognize the need for help. Empathy is key.
As challenging as this conversation is for your senior, it can also be difficult to come to terms that someone you look up to can no longer do the things that they used to do. This means emotions may run high. Take care to stay level and collected throughout the process.
Focus on a Gradual Modification
Don’t charge into the conversation with a list of changes and demands. Instead, discuss how you can gradually start the process. What would a few hours of assistance mean in terms of personal care, home care, transportation to medical appointments, etc.?
Include Them in the Conversation
Though your elderly loved one is coming to a point in their lives where they need a little assistance to maintain their quality of life, they’re still an adult. Respect their independence and agency as much as you can. After all, they have a lifetime of living alone and overcoming challenges on their own.
- Avoiding speaking about your senior with other family members or even the care team as if they’re not in the room.
- Giving them choices where possible and avoiding making decisions for them.
- Taking care to address their questions even if they don’t reflect your immediate concerns.
Yes, this is a challenging conversation to have, but it’s vital to the safety, health, and quality of life of your elderly loved one. You’re not alone in this journey and you deserve support just as they do. The RetireEASE can help you facilitate this conversation if you and your family feel it’s time for a loved one to get assistance.
To learn more about how about red flags to have the home care conversation as well as how to navigate the affair, tune into Senior Care Minute with RetireEASE founder, Steve Parrott!
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