Introducing in-home care can be one of the best decisions you make for your loved one, but it can also be one of the biggest struggles. Many seniors are resistant to the idea, fearing they will lose control over their own lives, and some believing it’s the first step toward eventually having to leave their home.
In reality, in-home care can help your parent “age in place.” This means they can continue to live in their homes and maintain independence with a little help from a caregiver. And oftentimes once care begins, seniors quickly embrace the caregiving process and welcome the help. But how do you get from reluctance to appreciation? Keep reading to discover six strategies to help your aging parent accept in-home care.
Start the in-home care talks early
Don’t wait until there’s an emergency to bring in a caregiver. Much of the stress and anxiety around starting in-home care often occur when it’s a last-minute necessity. Educate yourself and keep an eye out for signs that might indicate the need for assistance, such as difficulty getting up and down or confusion performing simple tasks. Even better, make a plan with your parent about what will happen when those signs start to occur to help them take ownership in the process. If they are involved in the planning it usually makes for a smoother experience when the time comes.
Approach the situation as being your need rather than theirs
Oftentimes parents are concerned more about your needs than their own, so positioning in-home care as a way to help relieve stress on you can be a good way to approach it. Being a family caregiver and decision-maker for an elderly parent can often strain the parent-child relationship and cause resentment. Explaining to your loved one how in-home care for them can be helpful to you and restore the relationship to one of enjoyment can pave the way for acceptance.
Get others involved
It isn’t uncommon for seniors to brush off the advice of their adult children, especially when it comes to medical decisions. That’s when hearing it from a 3rd party like a good friend or a trusted medical professional can help. Talk privately with your parent’s physician and explain the situation. They can discuss the medical advantages of in-home care, which may help convince your parent it’s the right thing to do.
Work with an in-home care agency that focuses on caregiver matching
Most agencies have a roster of caregivers that could match your needs and perform the required services. But a select few agencies will go the extra mile to learn about your loved one’s interests and personality and train their caregivers to build relationships. This can make all the difference in how quickly your parent adapts to care. In many cases, the caregiver can become more like a trusted friend, which can lead to better quality of life and an increased lifespan. Talk with the care manager during the assessment process about the kind of caregiver that might be the right fit for your loved one. Knowing they can have a caregiver with some shared interests can ease anxiety about the process.
Talk to your parent about what in-home care will be like to have a caregiver and address their major concerns
Not knowing what to expect can cause any one of us to feel uneasy about trying something new. Learning about how in-home care works, the roles that each person will play, and what the day-to-day will look like can address any misconceptions your parent might hold about having in-home help. For instance, many seniors feel they have to “entertain” the caregiver and keep them busy, when in fact the services provided and “to-do” list will be outlined well before care is started, and a care manager helps manage these activities.
Here are a few ways you can help set accurate expectations for your loved one:
- Discuss your involvement in the process, explaining that it’s not a replacement for you and that you will be informed and involved on how the care is going and the daily activities being performed.
- Make a list of the specific tasks the caregiver will do, focusing on those your parent may not enjoy as much (like cooking or cleaning). Translate the time that will be saved into something tangible. For example, if a caregiver takes over laundry duty, your parent will be able to use that time to talk with a friend on the phone or read a book. Or better yet, do an activity with you!
- Position the caregiver as a companion and helper, rather than someone who will be ordering them around. In addition to household tasks, make a list of fun things your loved one and caregiver can do together, like play cards or do a craft.
- Cite “success stories” from others you know who have brought in a caregiver. If you don’t know anyone personally, check out senior care blogs for examples. Seeing a peer embrace in-home care will paint a more realistic picture and can be very persuasive.
Cost is another common concern. While on paper in-home care costs can seem a bit high, it’s important to remember that in many cases a caregiver can help prevent something catastrophic from occurring. Maintaining a safe environment, taking note of any unusual behavior or symptoms, and medication reminders are just a few of the ways a caregiver may help avert larger medical costs. Not to mention the physical and mental toll an injury or major medical issue can take.
Check out this blog post on the factors that affect the cost of in-home care with an agency.
Your parent could have additional fears than those listed and the best way to find out is to ask them! Talk with your in-home care agency of choice about whatever might be worrying your loved one – they can often walk you through how to handle it.
Start slow and practice empathy
It can be overwhelming to have someone new in your home, especially when they are taking over duties you have long done for yourself. A little patience and empathy for what your parent is going through can go a long way. This can mean starting with short periods of respite care to help your parent adjust over time rather than jumping into daily or full-time care right away. Some agencies allow you to start with as little as 10 hours per week, which could be as simple as one morning per week of house cleaning or meal prep. You could even be present and use that time for a fun activity that demonstrates the impact and advantages of having a caregiver.
Ultimately, it will take some time and effort to go from the idea stage of hiring a caregiver to actually starting care. But with the right approach, the process can be smoother and less stressful for both you and your loved one.