Starting the conversation with mum or dad about the move to residential aged care can be a tricky one, fraught with pitfalls that can get all sides a touch put out.
For most of us, the reasons that spur us on to start the conversation in the first place come out of love, care and worry for our parents.
While these are reasonable and widely held, when it comes to the topic of moving into a residential aged care facility, away from everything they have known and held dear for decades, there is a ton of baggage that must be addressed.
First off, remember that to them, you will likely always be the cheeky teenager that said you would take care of the car better than if it was a baby and yet you did return it with a few more dents than it left with. While you may be a mum or dad yourself now, with mortgages, full-time jobs, responsibilities coming out your ears, to your mum and dad, deep down, you will always be their little one.
So, going in strong with tones of ‘mum and dad, it’s time, you should be going into aged care’ will not only ruffle a few feathers, it could stop the conversation from occurring at all.
It’s best to understand the circumstance and situation you are going into. Your mum and dad have likely been leading their lives, independently for 40, 50, 60 years. They’ve been making the decisions concerning their lives for that long, so to increase the chances of a good, objective and calm discussion, approach the topic with respect, patience and an open mind.
Go Early And Go Gentle
It is much easier to approach the conversation and decision about moving into residential aged care as a marathon and not a sprint. It may take a lot of time for your mum and dad to feel they need to acknowledge that they may not be coping and to be open about going down that path.
Start with small steps in introducing the idea and the outcome of getting help.
If you notice that the house isn’t as clean as it used to be you might suggest to mum or dad that they could think about getting a cleaner. Allow them to sit with the idea and of course assure mum that while they may never get to her standard of cleanliness, she’s been keeping house forever, isn’t it time she deserves a little break?
Take note of the things that your parents like to have a little gripe about. Is it vacuuming under the bed? Removing the plaque from the bathroom sink? Use these real frustrations as an opening to start talking about outside help coming in. From there you can build up to the maintenance of the backyard or washing the outside windows and eventually aged care options.
The Long Game
Focus your mind around the fact that while you are concerned for your parents, getting them to willingly and happily decide to move out of their home of memories and comfort will take time. It won’t happen overnight. It won’t happen next month. It could be 12 to 18 months down the track.
Through understanding how your parents will likely be thinking, ie, I love my home and all its memories and my independent life, to gently seeking opportunities to open their minds to external help, and knowing this process will take a while, the outcome of seeing them safely in residential care may come at a far less emotional and familial cost.
Considering aged care for yourself or a loved one? We’re here to help.