Starting The Conversation

Talking with your parents or other loved ones about the need for some care and support at home can be challenging. This is especially true for children who may feel like their role in the relationship has been reversed as they have taken on increased responsibility for their aging parents. At InTouch at Home we recognize how difficult this conversation can be, so here are a few suggestions to help make things easier for you:

1. Begin Early
Perhaps the most important advice we can offer is to start the conversation early. It is never too soon to talk about wishes, preferences, and desires when it comes to personal care and support.  Waiting until the need for help has become urgent can lead to hurried decisions and poor outcomes for everyone.

2. Choose a Comfortable Time and Place
Avoid having the conversation in public places, like a doctor’s office waiting room or emergency room. Set a date, time and place for the conversation that is comfortable for everyone.  The living room or kitchen table of your family home is often the best choice.

3. Include Other Family Members
Do not try to do everything yourself. Ask other family members to get involved, especially if they have a good relationship with the person who is in need of additional care and support.

4. Ask About Records and Documents
This can be an emotionally charged conversation, but it is important to collect some basic information about your loved ones’ personal affairs. Discuss about wills, powers of attorney, advanced directives, and other important information that you will need should the health of your loved one begin to change.

5. Listen
Use good communication skills throughout the conversation. Resist the temptation to take over the discussion. It is helpful to ask open-ended questions that encourage your loved one to share how they are feeling about things, and what their desires are. Show respect and approach the discussion as a partner, not as the person "in charge."

6. Don’t Tell Them What to Do
No one has all the answers, but by working together we can develop solutions. Offer options and ask about their preferences. Involving them in the decision process enables them to exercise control and independence.

7. Ask for Help
You don’t have to do this all on your own. There are people who can help, such as family members, close friends, and if necessary professionals. Our team at InTouch at Home can get involved in the conversation when you feel you are ready or just need a little help.