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My ageing parents won’t admit they need help at home

parents need help

How to talk to your parents about home-based aged care

Quite often I find it’s the senior mum of the family who holds out on getting home care services. She’s been looking after her family and herself for too long to admit she needs help. Senior dads can also be unwilling to let on that they would welcome some help around the house. But the key is that accessing home based care can support your ageing parents to maintain their independence. Start having conversations early, to acknowledge and address any concerns about engaging home care services.

What are the signs your parents need help at home?

If your parents are avoiding some of the tasks or activities they used to do and love, it might be a sign they need more help around the home. Asking you for more help more often is another indicator they could need some short-term home care services or to look at ongoing services for their longer-term needs.

It’s natural to rely on family. We’re there for each other when needed. You might have felt like you’re called on a bit more frequently. You simply responded and took it on, right? You might not even notice for a while that you’re spending more and more time with caring responsibilities. But you can arrange help to provide your senior parents with extra support. It’s important for your own wellbeing. Getting help means you can continue to have quality time with your ageing parents, rather than losing this because you’re becoming a carer.

Consider what they might be missing – you might not have realised the range of services seniors can access through home-based aged care services. Many people don’t yet realise they could receive help at home, to remain independent in their own homes.

Is it a short-term issue or might your parents need extra support with home care services for their ongoing needs? The best way to tell is through a holistic aged care assessment, which looks at all facets of a senior’s health and lifestyle and recommends the services to meet their needs.

Meeting your parents’ needs as well as your own

Being there for your parents is an obvious way to acknowledge their needs. Some things are expressed in actions rather than words. Remember, you also need to acknowledge your own needs. You want the best for your senior loved one, so in talking to your senior parents about home-based aged care, you’ll look for ways to explain how you want them to receive the best care and that you’re not always in a position to provide it.

Making arrangements for home care services in advance is a practical and sensible approach, so that no-one feels stressed over obligations or becomes hesitant to ask for help for fear of being a ‘burden’. Calling on an external service changes the perspective to a health and wellbeing issue both for senior parents and their adult children, not an issue of family responsibility.

Getting used to the idea of using home care services

Getting help from an external service can be a big step. Having ‘outsiders’ in the home can cause seniors to feel uncomfortable. Our home is our safe space and your senior parents want to feel comfortable and at ease.

You’ll want to show them some information about home-based care services and get them used to the idea. Leave them to digest it. Then over time, add some more information. Just like we make a connection with people through building trust, seeing more information and making it a part of regular conversation will start to build familiarity and trust.

Keep your senior loved ones connected and in control

It’s very important to include your ageing parents in any decision-making. Be ready to have several conversations around which services to book in. A big concern as we get older is that so many things can feel out of control. Trying to keep on top of our changing health needs can be a source of worry. If there are also changes going on in our living situation, it’s stressful.

Our ‘Senior-in-control’ checklist is a helpful guide to maintaining choice and control for senior loved ones. Download it here.

Even if they throw their hands up in the air and say, ‘OK, you do it!’ it’s vital to keep your parents informed of what’s happening. Frustration with the process doesn’t mean they want to let everything out of their hands.

As service providers, we need the senior person’s consent to deal with another nominated individual. Our seniors need to know they are the focus of this situation and that their views, needs and preferences are valued and essential.

Investing in home-based care is an investment in health

Your parents might be reluctant to say anything about their needs because they’re worried about the cost of care services. Home-based aged care isn’t an all-or-nothing arrangement. Seniors can access just as many services as they need in the moment. Getting help might mean just arranging someone to do the cleaning or the gardening.

Be sure to check your eligibility for government funding through My Aged Care. If you’re experiencing difficulty navigating the My Aged Care process, I can help.

Getting home care services don’t mean you’re locked in forever. Encourage your senior parents to use services for a trial period. Find out if they feel like it’s beneficial for them. Services can be adjusted to suit a senior’s changing needs. It’s ideal to engage with a case manager who’ll monitor the senior’s needs and recommend the appropriate services.

Seniors might be worried about incurring costs and hassle for their family. Reassure them home care services will help protect their health and safety and ensure they can enjoy living at home for longer, which is the most important thing.

When ageing parents need help, it’s the start of a conversation

We want to arrange the best care at home for our senior loved ones, for many reasons. It’ll help the health and wellbeing of all family members, to know their needs are taken care of. It’s a challenging step and if they’re not at immediate health risk, try not to force any changes.

You could focus on getting your senior parents to accept help in one or two areas, to trial the arrangements and see if they find it benefits their day to day living.

And if they’re still reluctant, you can come back to the conversation later. The concept will become more familiar the more you all learn and talk about home-based aged care options.

I home visit to families to conduct holistic aged care assessments, and coordinate services with a senior’s GP and health practitioners. It can be helpful for a healthcare practitioner to have this conversation together with the family, so don’t hesitate to call on me for an appointment.
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