How to Talk To Your Mom or Dad about Home Care
You and your siblings have agonized over this decision for months, but you are all in agreement that it is time to hire someone to help with your mom or dad. (Or at least the majority of you are in agreement. There’s always that sibling who likes to argue about everything.)
You have found an agency that does background checks on employees. You have met the caregiver who will be coming in twice a week to bathe your father.
You have determined who will be paying for the care, and you have filled out all the necessary paperwork. Now it is time to talk with your aging parent about your decision. Here are some tips to make that conversation go as smoothly as possible.
Choose the Right Person to Share the News
Do you remember how your older sister would set off your father when she was a teenager? Maybe you remember the fights around the dinner table when your older sister would bring up hot-button topics just to irritate your dad.
Although those conversations may have occurred decades ago, there still may be an undercurrent of tension between both parties. That doesn’t mean that they don’t love each other, but that just means that they have tended to bump heads a lot in the past. When choosing the person to talk with your Dad about hiring help, perhaps your older sister is not the one who should share the news.
In most families, the choice of who is the best one for the job is evident to everyone. Maybe it was the sibling who was able to talk your parents into anything when you were kids.
Perhaps it is the sibling who has a career in the medical field and can speak with authority regarding the necessity of hiring help. Maybe the person is not even related by blood, but instead is a highly-respected in-law who your parent adores. Regardless, this is not the time to have a power struggle with your siblings. This is the time to put your parent’s needs first.
Choose the Right Time to Talk to Your Parent About Home Care
You know your parent best. Is he a worrier? Would casually mentioning that it might be nice to “hire outside help” cause your parent to lose sleep at night? Then perhaps you shouldn’t suggest the possibility of visiting a home care agency until you have made the decision.
Does your mom need to be in control at all times and won’t accept ideas unless she thinks they are hers? Then perhaps you should drop hints about hiring extra help, just like Ralphie left the ad for the Red Rider BB Gun in his mom’s magazine.
Maybe the best time to discuss hiring outside help would occur right after a scare. If your mother fell while getting the mail and struggled getting up off the ground, maybe the next day would be a good time to talk about hiring someone to help with day-to-day activities. Perhaps if your parent hears about another senior citizen’s tragedy, he or she will be inspired to enlist outside care.
Using Careful Language
You know your parent. If you say that you are hiring a “caregiver,” how would he or she react? Would she accuse you of trying to “dump her care off on a stranger?” Would using the word “caregiver” make your mom feel as if she must be on her deathbed? Would she equate “caregiver” as being the same as “Hospice nurse?” If “caregiver” or “nurse” connotes something negative for your parent, why not tell your mom you are hiring a “housekeeper?”
Perhaps your parent will be offended with the idea of hiring a “housekeeper.” If you know your parent would react negatively to this title, you could say you are hiring a “personal assistant.”
Regardless of what words you use, choose them carefully.
Let Your Parent Help Decide Who to Hire for Home Care
Instead of having your parent choose whether or not to hire extra help, you may consider having your parent be a part of the decision-making process by having them help decide who to hire.
Maybe you think you know the type of personality that would best suit your mom or dad, but perhaps you don’t really know. Your parent is the one who will be interacting with this person, so your parent should be part of the interviewing process. Enabling your loved one to choose the person could increase the chance of a successful business relationship.
Address your parent’s concerns
Being hesitant to let a stranger in your home is normal. This is especially true if your parent is physically weak. Listen to your parent when he or she addresses concerns.
If your parent shows concern about being physically harmed by a stranger in the home, talk to your parent about how the home care agencies do extensive background checks on all their employees. Reassure your mom or dad that you will be there the first several times the new hire visits. Tell your parents that you won’t leave them with a stranger until they feel comfortable.
If your parent shows concern regarding the safety of his or her belongings, come up with a plan to secure the valuables before the home worker’s first day on the job. Perhaps your mom or dad could put items in a safety-deposit box or a locked safe. Maybe you could store some valuable belongings at your home to put your loved one’s mind at ease.
Perhaps you could find a small safe for medications, wallets, or cash that your loved one may not feel comfortable leaving out while the worker is in the home. Even if you don’t feel worried about your parent’s safety with the home health worker, it is essential to do everything you can to put your loved one’s mind at ease. You don’t want your parent to get sick because he or she is fretting over the new helper.
Your loved one may also be concerned with the cost associated with hiring outside help. Go through the numbers with your loved one if he or she is still capable of such a discussion. Remind your parent that he or she has long-term care insurance or Medicare or Medicaid to help cover the costs.
Reassure your parent that this is a necessary step in the aging process
Few people like to admit that they need help. Remind your parent that what he or she is feeling is normal. Remind your mom that if she wants to be able to stay in her home, hiring help is necessary.
Reassure your dad that your priority if his health and safety. Tell your parents that you love them, and you want to make sure they are well cared for as they grow older. Perhaps during the conversation, you can remind your parent about how he or she cared for your grandparents as they aged.