Discussing care needs with an elderly relative can be difficult, depending on the specific requirements of your loved one and their attitude to receiving help. For some, companionship and help around the home is welcomed with open arms, whereas others see this as losing their independence.
At Home Instead, our aim is to help people age positively and in place, which means bringing expert care to them at home. This helps them to live independently and enjoy a stimulating life where they’re most comfortable. We’ve helped thousands of families, so whatever situation you’re facing, or whatever your questions about home care, Home Instead can help.
It can feel very strange to discuss care needs with an elderly relative if they used to care for you as a child. We often see our parents as invincible for most of our lives, but eventually the time comes when they need help to live safely and comfortably in their own home.
This transition is easier when your loved one accepts their need for help, but it can be challenging if they are in denial about their needs and refusing the care that will help them. Research from Age UK in 2019 showed 15% of the 65+ population struggle without the help they need to carry out essential daily tasks like getting out of bed, and getting washed. For this reason, it’s important to keep a watchful eye over loved ones in case they are silently struggling with these everyday activities.
You may find our guide on How To Tell If You Or A Loved One Needs Support helpful for knowing when the time is right to start discussions about care. If you are unsure how to start this discussion, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Research shows 2 in 3 people aged 70+ say they have not shared their plans for care with their adult children, so you may feel in the dark about your loved one’s thoughts on home care. Alternatively, your relative might be adamant they do not want home care from a stranger, or feel they don’t need it.
Rather than pressuring them to receive care regardless, it is important to listen to their objections and personal reasons. Try to understand any doubts or fears they may have so you can respond appropriately to put their mind at ease. It can sometimes feel like an elderly relative is simply being ‘difficult’, but more often than not there is an underlying reason for their objections, and understanding this can make subsequent discussions easier for both of you.
One of the best ways to approach care discussions if an elderly relative is hesitant to receive care is to bring up the subject early – long before the person actually needs help. Without any urgency to organise care, it can be easier to ask questions like: “What are your thoughts on installing a stair lift now so it’s there if you ever need it?”
By introducing the idea gradually rather than all at once, your loved one can start to consider it themselves and become more comfortable with the idea when it’s needed down the line. It can be useful to suggest having, for example, a carer pop in once a week to do any difficult housework chores so they start to get used to having someone in the house regularly.
It’s true that sometimes we don’t have the time to gradually work up to the subject of arranging home care, but if it’s possible, a staggered approach can be a really useful way to bring it up when care is still a nice-to-have rather than a must-have.
If you are trying to have a serious discussion with your elderly relative about arranging care more imminently, it can help to approach the subject having done some initial research into the types of care available, what you think would help your loved one most, and the cost of implementing each type of care. A pros and cons list could be useful, or collecting some recommendations from others who have already started using home care services.
You might find some of our guides helpful in your research:
Remember, your loved one may have already thought about their care needs and how they feel about certain elements of this. Don’t dive in with your own research on the subject until you have asked them their opinion on home care and what they think might suit them best. Find out what they think, and follow up with the research you have done.
Home care can be a solution that many elderly people are open to, as it provides an excellent alternative to moving to a care home. By considering creative ways to solve your loved one’s problems using flexible home care services, you can discuss a middle ground that keeps them safe while also respecting their wishes and routine within their own home.
Here are a few tips for having the discussion about arranging home care:
When discussing home care with a loved one, it can help to mention benefits such as:
It can be tough if an elderly relative is refusing to discuss their care needs, so if all of the above is not working and they are still saying no to care, you may want to try:
In a survey asking participants their reasons for leaving work to care for elderly parents, one of the top responses was “there is no one else who can help”. With studies revealing almost 5% of the population are providing 20 hours of unpaid care or more every week, it is normal to start feeling overwhelmed by caring duties. If you aren’t sure what to do about a loved one refusing care, do not give up on having the care discussion.
Continue to bring this up as often as feels appropriate, and engage the help of others who can assist such as your relative’s GP or healthcare team. You can also reach out to us at Home Instead to discuss the types of home care that could be useful, and arrange a home visit so your loved one can meet their potential carer and discuss the idea of home care with a professional. This will hopefully answer their questions and put their mind at ease.
Our Care Professionals are the best of the best, and highly trained to deliver the services you need. No matter what type of home care you are looking for, we can provide a tailored service that suits you or your loved one.
We’re an award-winning home care provider and part of a worldwide organisation devoted to providing the highest-quality relationship-led care for older people in their own homes. Arranging care for yourself or your loved one shouldn’t be stressful, so whatever questions you would like answered, feel free to reach out to the Home Instead team to discuss your needs.