Knowing when to start talking to your parents about aged care can be tricky and delicate.
For many adult children, it’s easy to tiptoe around the subject and avoid the uncomfortable and challenging talk.
And while most older Australians want to live in their own home, the challenges as we age can mean for some that they can be prone to falls or other injuries.
“The fact is we’re all living longer, so we have to plan for our futures and the futures of our parents,” Brian Herd, one of Australia’s leading experts in elder law, told Women’s Agenda.
“Having worked in elder law for over 20 years, I’ve seen the consequence of not having an aged-care plan and waiting until there’s a crisis to make decisions.
“Let me tell you, it’s much better to make educated and informed decisions before it gets to crisis point.”
If you’re wrangling with deciding when to bring up aged care with your parents, these are our top tips for broaching the sensitive subject.
Start talking early
Being well prepared is the key when discussing aged care with your parents, which means having ‘the talk’ sooner rather than later.
This allows you more time to weigh-up options – to look at your folks’ needs and choose the best aged care with them.
Waiting until your parents have a fall at home or sustain an injury can lead to poor decision-making, clinical psychologist Jo Lamble told Channel 7.
“Then decisions are made in a rush, so it’s far better to have the conversation before any crisis comes — and then you can see what your parents are thinking.”
Focus on the practicalities
For older people, living out their twilight years in their own homes is a way to stay independent. However, some day-to-day tasks like paying bills, general maintenance around the home and climbing stairs can become a struggle as they age.
A practical solution is arranging for some help around the home.
Your parents could benefit from something as simple as Home Care Services — tailored to suit their individual care needs — that allows them to remain independent and continue living in their own home.
Do your homework
Going into a conversation about aged care with your parents can be easier when you’ve done your research.
The aged care system isn’t easy to navigate and if you need help understanding options, you can speak with AnglicareSA by calling 1800 317 009. They can explain how to get started so that you’re informed.
Just be careful not to bombard your parents with too much information initially. The idea is to provide them with options — not research and statistics!
Empower your parents
Listen to your parent’s needs and ensure they are an integral part of the decision-making regarding their future.
“Having the conversation is about listening to what your parents want and what they don’t want – it’s not about adult children telling their folks what they need to have,” Jo Lamble told Channel 7.
“A lot of elderly people are fearful. They’re worried about losing their independence and control over their lives. So, we need to reassure them and tell them we love them and just want to know what they’re thinking.”
Look for subtle changes
Keep an eye out for minor changes which may indicate your parents are struggling at home. These may be sudden weight loss, a messy house or increased anxiety and forgetfulness.
Picking up on these minor triggers can allow you to approach the subject of aged care gently.
Include other family members
Make sure the whole family is on the same page before you discuss aged care with your parents. This can avoid messy or unproductive situations.
Float the idea of starting with just one service
Starting with one service such as personal care, physiotherapy, meal preparation or transport to a doctor’s appointment will show your parents how valuable support services can be and that they are still in control.
Don’t be too surprised if you’re met with resistance from your parents when you first discuss the topic of aged care.
Be patient with your parents and ensure they understand the decision is made out of love.
It’s likely that your conversation won’t just be a ‘once off’, instead, discussed over weeks or months.
Underline that your parents have many options from home care and health and wellness services in their own home to downsizing to an independent living unit if the family home is getting to be too much to manage.
Choose the right aged care provider
Once you’ve broached the subject of aged care, choosing the right aged care provider is essential to keeping your parents on board.
AnglicareSA, offers a wide range of home care services to suit all needs to make living at home easier and safer for older people.
They also offer various health and wellness services to help older people keep fit and active and support independence. These services include massages, exercise classes and physiotherapy to name a few.