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How to discuss care requirements with a loved one

The prospect of needing full time care can be very daunting and it’s a difficult subject to approach. An elderly relative may refuse care for a long time before admitting they need any help. Naturally, older people are scared about the future and worried about losing control of their life. They may think that accepting care means they have to move out of their home, or they may fear losing their dignity and independence. These are normal concerns which families need to discuss.

It’s always best to have a discussion about care requirements before they become essential. You can speak about care as if it’s in the distant future, to get an idea from your relative about what their wishes are. An ageing loved one may suddenly need help, or may struggle before asking for support, so it’s a good idea to have approached the topic before it becomes urgent.

Start the conversation

Bite the bullet and start the conversation. Explain to your family member that you want to help them as much as possible in the future, but they need to tell you how they would like to be cared for. Discuss care requirements as early as possible, especially if your ageing relative lives alone. Focus on the things a carer could help them do, rather than the tasks they might not be able to do independently in the future. If you are met with conflict or reluctance to continue the conversation, explain how important it is for you to understand their wishes, and emphasise that the situation is probably in the distant future.

Loss of independence

The main fear for ageing adults is a loss of independence. Explain that this doesn’t have to happen – care helps people live independently for longer, rather than taking away independence. Accepting care is not a sign of weakness or dependence, especially if a carer is only visiting once a day. It may be a good idea to suggest home care as a way of staying at home independently for as long as possible, rather than moving into a residential care home.

Many people also worry about the types of tasks carers will help them with, such as washing and dressing. Explain the difference between personal care and domestic care, and that your relative will be looked after by a professional who understands their concerns.

Money worries

Now is also a good time to discuss any financial concerns regarding care. Find out if your loved one will be entitled to any help when paying for care, and how much they are willing to spend on it. Money worries are very common in the elderly but there is usually help and support out there. Try and ease any concerns they have, and be honest about the cost of care. Compare the prices of different care options and see which is the most affordable.

Choosing care for a relative can be confusing, but once you understand their wishes and concerns you can find a care provider they will be happy with.

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