How to Start the Elderly Care Conversation with Mum or Dad

Here are our tips to help you start the elderly care conversation with Mum or Dad. We’ll also include what to say and when to make chatting more open and productive.

4 Valuable Tips For Starting the Elderly Care Conversation

Recently, life may have been noticeably challenging for Mum or Dad. That’s why you’ve searched, “How to talk about elder care?” Maybe they used to be more mobile than they are now, or you’ve noticed differences in vision, hearing, or even memory. Now is the best time to talk about what elderly care looks like.

And it’s okay to be nervous; it’s perfectly natural. You don’t want to upset Mum or Dad or leave them feeling caught unaware. And equally, you need to figure out what to say or how to get your feelingsacross. After all, the care journey is something you will travel together, albeit in very different ways.

The good news is that senior care differs from how it once looked. You now have a wide range of home help for the elderly, or home care, which helps Mum or Dad stay home, living an independent and happy life for as long as possible. No need to explore care homes earlier than you need to. No overbearing assistance. In fact, none of the myths are true that haunt people reaching a certain age about what their future might look like.

Here’s how to approach the care conversation empathetically to foster a compassionate and open environment.

Elderly Care Conversation Tip 1: 'When' to discuss care options

“Elder Care” can sometimes have negative connotations for people. It can symbolise a loss of independence and, ultimately, their own identity. But modern care doesn’t look as it once did. You now have many options that specifically help you stay independent for longer. One of which is home care.

For example, you can employ a home care carer if Mum or Dad needs help around the house. If Mum or Dad need a temporary respite service to help them after a planned surgery, you can hire a carer. Or if Mum and Dad need reliable transport to and from hospital visits or shopping, you can hire a carer.

Care is also temporary, part-time, or full-time, so there’s a lot of choice regarding how it could work for you.

So when do you start having the care conversation with Mum or Dad? We recommend starting as early as possible and begin by considering what they could use help with.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be a conversation that spans every facet of care in one afternoon; instead, one of the best ways to explore elder care is to have “in-the-moment” or incremental conversations about which services might help and when.

For example, if Dad struggles to bring the shopping home but prefers to do it himself over home deliveries, why not discuss booking mobility transport? Or if Mum has difficulties hearing the doorbell, discuss which home devices they could use or if hearing aids might help.

daughter sitting with mum discussing dementia care options

Elderly Care Conversation Tip 2: ‘Where’ to discuss care options

The best place to have conversations about care provision is at home. It doesn’t need to be a formal sit-down with everyone present, but it needs to be where Mum or Dad feels relaxed, happy, and open. It should also be when Mum or Dad can give you their best focus. We always tell the families we work with that care conversations are best over a good cup of tea—a casual but informative chat that allows everyone to be open, honest, and understanding.

Be open to discussing how they feel and how they see their care needs progressing. But also be open to discussing what you might need to make that happen—sometimes, outside help is required. And that’s okay.

When you reach a decision about care options, let your loved one feel responsible for that choice of next step. Just as they have always been responsible for their significant decisions. Then, sit the family down and discuss the plan together. This allows everyone to ask questions and understand the directions in which things are moving.

Elderly Care Conversation Tip 3: 'What' to discuss in your care chats

While you want to keep your conversation casual, you’ll also want to cover some essential points to ensure everyone is on the same page with the next steps.

Talk about:

  • What Mum or Dad feel they need help with
  • What you can provide and what you may need home care to help with
  • What home care carers do in a specific instance
  • And how home care will help Mum or Dad stay independent in a given situation

For example, let’s say Mum or Dad is facing increased arthritis and mobility issues. They are fiercely independent and want to remain so. We believe they should, which is why here at Home Instead, we offer several services that can help them alongside tools, devices and equipment you can buy for the home. Our services could include assistance with household chores, personal care and travel. We can also help them with exercise and fun things like day trips. Our carers also liaise with medical teams, meaning you never have to worry about care plan provision.

Having that conversation and being transparent about what care looks like is helpful in understanding your next steps and where you both want them to go.

And if you struggle to understand what home care choices are available, reach out. A caring care team should be more than just responsive; they must also be helpful.

Daughter helping elderly mum read care options booklet

Elderly Care Conversation Tip 4: ‘How’ to discuss care

Mum and Dad are independent souls. They are free-thinking, have their own friends, and have their own way of doing things. That’s why how you talk about senior care is as important as what you talk about.

Look at it from their angle. Mum and Dad used to be able to scoop you up when you fell. They taught you how to read and write. Now, slowly but surely, old age is creeping in, and all they took for granted is changing. They see you looking at them differently. You may be starting to treat them differently, too. More fragile, less capable. As a result, they’ve stopped feeling empowered and independent and started feeling guilty, frustrated and hopelessly dependent.

Likewise, you feel sadness. Seeing Mum and Dad struggle when they were so strong is tough. You also feel guilt because as much as you want to be able to do for them, you can’t do it all – caring for someone is hard, emotionally and physically. You also feel reactive. Planning ahead is something you’ve never had to do for Mum or Dad. Most of all, you want to maintain their respect and love.

Raw emotions are bubbling under the surface. A good chat is how you both work through your feelings and begin to smile again. It’s how you both navigate this journey together to promote Mum or Dad’s independence while giving you the chance to help where you need to.

You start the care conversation by leading with openness and empathy. Listen to how each other feels and plan together to tackle change proactively. Somewhere in there is a beautiful “sweet spot” where you start to understand that this is about working together to make incremental changes that empower and assist rather than smother.

But remember, start incrementally. Consider what they might need today; that is a manageable step. Talk about how you make senior living work in a way that brings back empowerment.

Contact us today on 01252 758 716 if you need help understanding how home care can help your loved one.

We are your Home Instead team, covering Farnborough, Farnham, Fleet, Crondall and Church Crookham.