The whirl of the holiday season is behind us, and while you’re left with happy memories, you may looking back and paying more attention to the irregularities you noticed in your older relatives’ home or behavior. Maybe you are starting to wonder if they need some help with everyday activities.
If you’re nervous to talk to your loved one about long-term care, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many people are tongue-tied when it comes to discussing their older loved one’s abilities to remain independent. However, it’s important to begin the conversation, no matter how uncomfortable, so your older loved one’s wishes can be honored when they can no longer advocate for themselves.
Signs It's Time to Talk About Long-Term Care
There are several signs to look for, and you may have noticed some of these during the holiday season as you spent more time with your older loved ones.
Condition of their home: Was the dining room table covered in newspapers, unanswered mail and bills? Did your mom still have Halloween decorations out? Cluttered and messy homes can be an indication your loved one needs help.
Hygiene and clothing: Were they bathing regularly, brushing their teeth and changing clothes on a daily basis? More importantly, their clothing selection should have made sense. For example, did your grandpa knock at your door for a holiday visit while wearing a tank top and shorts when it’s snowing?
Cognition: Confusion and forgetfulness are both important factors to consider. Has your loved one consistently missed their doctor appointments? Did your dad forget to take medications or turn the oven off after baking his famous casserole? Was your grandma confused when you talked to her about her favorite TV show?
Emotions: Mood swings and changes in their personality are important signs as well. Did your loved one get easily upset or frustrated? Was your normally outgoing aunt refusing to participate in caroling or choir practice? Did she appear withdrawn?
If the answers to these questions are yes, then you should speak to your loved one about the advantages of long-term care.
Having the Talk With Your Loved One About Care Options
Consider having the talk now since all the stress and activity of the holidays has faded. Let them know you love them and would like to talk about the future. Remember it is not an intervention, and you don’t want anyone to become edgy or defensive.
Before you begin expressing concerns, outline an agenda of what you would like say and give time for you loved one to speak without interruption. Be sure to look at all of the caregiving options available: assisted living facilities, adult day care, etc. If your loved wants to continue living at home, as most adults do, there is an alternative you should consider: home care.
Home care provides assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing and cooking. It is an effective solution for older adults who prefer to remain at home where they can maintain daily routines, favorite activities and quality of life in a familiar setting.
Most importantly, listen to your loved one’s desires and needs. For more tips on how to start the discussion and make it effective for you and your loved one, download our handy e-book, “Important Things to Discuss With Your Aging Loved Ones.”