If your parents have always been active and independent, it can be a shock for you all to realize that they’re getting older and are no longer so spry. For older parents who are struggling, there are lots of options for home help, depending on their level of need.
The problem is that it can be difficult to face up to the fact that help is needed, and your parents may insist everything is fine. What are your options and what can you do? Here’s the lowdown on how to handle this type of not-so-uncommon scenario.
The Legal Position
Before considering your choices, it’s worth quickly running through the law in the US and the rights that your parents have.
In a nutshell, it all depends on whether they are still competent to make their own decisions. If they are of a sound mind, even if you think they would benefit from help, the law supports their right to make that decision for themselves.
The only time you can legally force them to accept help is if they are considered to represent a very real danger to their own safety. This means they must be declared as “gravely disabled” by the courts, and a guardianship issued (in California it’s known as conservatorship). This is a messy, complicated and lengthy process and is best to avoid wherever possible.
Discuss Their Worries
If you take a gentle approach, you may be able to get your parents to open up about what they’re worried about. Perhaps they don’t like the idea of someone else having a key to their property or they’re concerned about a loss of privacy.
Using home care can stir up many emotions, and if you can get your parents talking about how they’re honestly feeling, that’s a helpful start.
Part of the process may be discussing the load it’s placing on you, and whether you’re able to sustain it. Your parents may be under the impression that you can continue to provide help for them at home. If this isn’t the case, explaining the benefits of home care, and the fact it will free you to just spend more quality time with them may be a deciding factor.
Allow Them to Feel in Control
One of the biggest issues for older people who need help is the feeling that they’re losing control of their own life. To combat this, they may put up a strong and adamant resistance to accepting care.
Therefore, when talking about the subject, it’s imperative that you allow your parents to remain in control at all times. This could mean deciding how many hours care they want, or the company they’d like to use.
Offering them choices and allowing them to make the big decisions could ensure that they always feel in control and will therefore be more receptive to what you’re suggesting.
Never an Easy Discussion
Talking to your older parents about home care is never an easy discussion, but it’s one that can prove vital.
If you don’t raise the subject, they could end up having a serious accident in the home and you’ll be regretting not taking the plunge. Talk to your parents in the right way and support them in making the decision. You could be surprised at how well the conversations turns out.