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Let’s face it, accepting help in later life isn’t something most people look forward to, as we fear losing our independence and identity.
Convincing a parent it’s time to ask for a little help can be challenging and you may be met with resistance even contemplating the idea. In our experience however, the sooner you do address your concerns for their quality of life and plan for the future, the better it is for the whole family. Receiving a helping hand before your elderly relative reaches crisis point will almost always extend their time living independently in their own home and will help put your mind at ease.
Timing is everything so pick your moment carefully, knowing that you’ll have uninterrupted quality time together. If you feel time pressured or if emotions are running high that day, it’s probably not conducive to a relaxed atmosphere. Blurting out your concerns in a moment of frustration can be hurtful and counterproductive.
Pick a neutral place, that holds no attachment for either of you, maybe visit a country park that you’ve never been to before or a coffee shop out of town. Having a conversion of this nature at your parent’s home can sometimes make matters worse and put them immediately on the defensive.
Keep it one-on-one at first, so that they don’t feel the whole family is ‘ganging-up’ on them and that way they can take in what’s being said from one source. Family gatherings aren’t the ideal place to have initial conversations, but once you’ve explored options together you can bring other family members in to offer support. It may also ‘sound better’ coming from another family member or friend, especially if you have been the main caregiver as you may be too close to the situation.
Be positive and explain how a little help can enable them to continue to have a good quality of life in their later years. Dispel any worries about taking away their independence, by clearly explaining the benefits of a having a helping hand at home. For example, if they get assistance with basic tasks, such as stripping the beds and mowing the lawn, there will be more opportunities to pursue hobbies and personal interests. A Home Helper can offer companionship and accompany your parents on trips out of the house.
Show sensitivity as criticism and judgement can make your loved one feel pressured and offended. Approaching the subject with empathy can make all the difference and be ready with examples of specific incidents that have given you cause for concern. Perhaps there are days when you know they don’t leave the house or occasions when they struggle to do the food shopping or to keep on top of the housework on their own.
Avoid power struggles and accept that everything won’t necessarily be resolved overnight. Be prepared for resistance on their part as they may feel they’re coping perfectly well without your intervention. For them to admit they’d value help at home is a big step, so be prepared to ease them into it over time. Having a Close to Hand Home Helper can be a perfect first step, as you can introduce help at home on an ad hoc basis or gradually on an hour-by-hour arrangement.
Stay calm and state your concerns in a tender way to reassure them that receiving help can be a positive change. Listen to their objections and counter their arguments gently and with respect for their dignity.
Ask questions to gently lead the discussion whilst making it a two-way exchange; let them come to the answer themselves without feeling undermined. It also shows that you care about their point of view and that you want to improve their quality of living.
Do your research beforehand so that you know exactly what services are available in their area and have specific recommendations to hand to give them reassurance.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be kind to your loved one and yourself; perhaps explain your own worries about not being able to be there for them all the time and that you would be relieved to know that help is at hand for them.