Can you imagine Gloria approaching Archie Bunker -- the curmudgeonly (and often inappropriate) father character from All in the Family -- to discuss getting help at home?
"Mind your own business, Gloria!!"
That's our guess for what he'd say as he walks out of the room, in his classic stubborn style.
For many families, this first conversation can be one of the hardest parts of supporting a older parent or partner. It's natural to feel hesitation about broaching sensitive topics such as loss of independence.
Here are tips for starting the conversation with your parents or loved ones:
Consider your end goal: some conversations will be broad, introducing long term care planning, while others will be specific to scheduling a doctor’s appointment or a home care assessment. Be realistic about your goals, keeping in mind that there will be room for additional conversations once the discussion is open. If you’re nervous about starting the conversation, practice! Ask a family member or close friend to help you rehearse.
Be a Good Listener
Tell your loved one that you care about them and that’s why you’re sharing your concerns. Consider an open discussion that includes:
- What prompted the discussion- maybe a recent event, a friend’s situation, a move, or something else
- Their concerns about getting older- these will likely include maintaining independence, social connections, and remaining active in decision-making
Consider All the Options
Allow for a discussion of all available options. Remember that there aren’t right or wrong choices, so explore all possible solutions. Research together what you’d each like to see as a next step. Often the most appropriate next step allows your loved one to live as independently as possible and to maintain their weekly routine.
These conversations aren’t easy, but planning for the future can prevent stress and worry. It can feel isolating caring for a loved one; know that you aren’t alone. There are many support groups and online forums to help you and your family. The Caregiver Space and DailyCaring are great starting points for online support.