As we age, it's inevitable that it will become harder to do things we took for granted when we were younger. While most people wish to remain independent for as long as possible, there comes a time when everyone needs some help.
If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot provide the degree of help required by an older loved one, or you worry about them, it may be time to talk about senior care options.
"You want to be sensitive to the fact that your senior may be resistant to help and see it as a loss of control," says Steve Goforth, President for Oxford HealthCare. "How you approach this discussion is very important."
Here are 10 tips for having a conversation with your loved one about care options.
1. Do your homework
Before beginning any discussion of senior care, you need to understand the options and which ones are viable for your loved one's situation. These include in-home care, independent living communities, assisted living and others. You'll need this information when it's time to suggest care solutions.
2. Let the senior start the discussion
In the course of daily conversation, your loved one may mention it's hard managing medications, preparing meals, cleaning, running errands or simply getting around. This may be a good time to start talking about their frustrations with getting older.
As they explain their challenges, pay attention to what you're hearing. Understanding where their problems and risks lie can guide your solutions for helping them. Let them know you take their concerns seriously.
4. Make suggestions
Problem-solve with your loved one, talking about ways to get them the help they need. This should be a conversation, not a monologue. If they seem upset, be understanding. Different people react differently, and if you're met with silence, don't assume they're not listening.
5. Don't push
If you meet resistance at first — and you certainly may — don't press the issue. You're planting seeds that will take some time to grow. Unless you're immediately concerned for your loved one's safety or well-being, let them think it over for a bit.
6. Be empathetic
The thought of giving up one's independence can be scary. Let them talk about those fears, if they're willing to, and don't dismiss them as silly. It's a difficult thing to admit they need help with activities they've done independently all their lives.
7. Be reassuring
Explain you want them to have as much independence as possible and to lead the fullest life they can. They deserve to enjoy their lives without having to worry about doing things they find difficult. Your goal is to work with them to find an acceptable solution.
8. Recognize your senior may want to stay at home
A study shows that 87 percent of seniors prefer to spend their older years at home in familiar surroundings. Not only are they happier and more fulfilled there, it's usually less expensive.
9. Involve the senior in the decision-making process
Let your loved one tour any facilities under consideration. If in-home care seems like a viable option, encourage potential caregivers to pay a visit so they can become acquainted with the senior, who will likely express a preference and offer good insight about the available choices.
10. Maintain a dialogue
Once a decision is made about the type of care and the provider, encourage conversation and feedback during and after the transition. Your loved one should feel free to tell you about any issues or additional needs on an ongoing basis.
Of course, whatever decision you make concerning the type of care and where it's administered should also be based on careful research. You'll want to investigate the credentials of the caregivers and make certain they're qualified to manage the type of care your loved one needs.
"Whether it's a matter of helping a patient recover from a stroke, managing an ongoing condition like dementia or Alzheimer's disease or even just providing day-to-day living assistance, you should be focused on two major factors: skill and compassion," said Goforth for Oxford HealthCare. "Of course, you want well-trained professionals providing needed services for your loved one. But genuine concern elevates competent care to truly outstanding care."
While aging can be difficult, the right kind of help can free us from our day-to-day cares and allow us to enjoy our later years more fully. Working with your loved one to select the right provider can make that goal a reality.
Oxford HealthCare is committed to excellence in providing home care services to the elderly and disabled in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas. We invite you to contact us for the best possible plan for your family. Give us a call!