For many the festive period can be the catalyst to making life-changing decisions, usually born out of spending an extended and intense amount of time with loved ones.
It can be difficult to decipher if an elderly friend or relative is coping and when is the right time to consider additional support to improve their quality of life.
If you visited a family member over the Christmas and noticed the following issues it may be time to address your concerns and explore ways to rectify them:
- Spoiled food that doesn’t get thrown away
- Missing important appointments
- Difficulty with walking, balance and mobility
- Uncertainty and confusion when performing once-familiar tasks
- Noticeable decline in grooming habits and personal care
- Forgetting to take medications, or taking incorrect dosages
- Poor diet or weight loss
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
However, while it may be clear to other family members that some additional help is needed, it can be a difficult conversation to have with a loved one – and may not be received in a positive way. It is common for your observations to be brushed off ‘ everything is fine, you worry too much’. Often admitting they need help can make make them feel like they are no longer capable of looking after themselves, consequently leading to feeling as though they are losing their independence. Recognising that an ageing loved one might need help with daily living tasks doesn’t necessarily mean that your loved one has to give up their independence and move to a nursing home, they may just need some extra help in their home.
While broaching the topic of home help may be difficult and often is flat out refused, it is important to try and understand their point of view and their fears. They have lived a long and fruitful life and have survived lots of trials and tribulations – they’ll be fine.
Along with being empathetic, there a number of strategies to help you overcome the objections of a loved one reluctant to the idea of care:
Having a relaxed conversation about care options before a health crisis strikes is an ideal scenario, this gives everyone the chance to gain all the information they need and make informed decisions. Look for opportunities to ask questions like, “Mum, where do you see yourself getting older?” or “How would you feel about hiring a cleaner or driver so you could stay home?”
Take it Slow
Weave a new Support Assistant in gradually. Start with short home visits once a week and build up until they have built a strong relationship with the company and are used to having the assistants in their home.
Ask open-ended questions and give your loved one time to answer, you can say, ‘Dad, what’s it like to take care of Mum 24 hours a day?’.” Conversations like these offer them the chance to open up and gives you a better idea of the additional support needed. Furthermore, questions that determine why an elder refuses help allow you to tailor a solution to these issues. Is it about a lack of privacy, fears about the cost of care, losing independence or having a stranger in the house? To build trust, listen with empathy and validate rather than deny your loved one’s feelings.
Recruit Outsiders Early
Sometimes it can be easier for a relative to talk to a professional rather than a family member who is more emotionally invested in the situation. Don’t hesitate to speak to professionals in the healthcare and care industry to suggest your loved one may need help, and talk through how they can assist.
If possible, include your loved one in interviews or in setting schedules as this allows them to remain in control and put their opinions and views across – they are the most important. Let them choose certain days of the week or times of day to have a Support Assistant come. Emphasise an Assistant will be a companion and facilitate their independence above all else allowing them to continue participating in their favourite activities.
Home Care Preferred offer free of charge introductory visits to discuss potential care options, we welcome and encourage those considering their options to pop into our shop on Station Road for an impartial conversation with experiences professionals. Even if we are not right for you we pride ourselves on our signposting service to other health care professionals, ensuring you get the right support and guidance for your individual situation.