How to start a conversation about aged care and support with your loved one

Aged Care June 27, 2018

At some point, you might need to have an important conversation with your parent or family member about getting them the support they need. Although it may seem daunting, this conversation doesn’t have to be. With the right words and intentions, you can help your loved one get the support they need.

Conversation starter: “It’s important that you follow a lifestyle of your choosing”
When starting the discussion about support with your parent, relative or friend, you should let them know that they are in complete control of their lifestyle and support choices. Most people who are ageing want nothing more than to live independently for as long as possible. One of the biggest parts of living independently is having the ability to stay living at home.

You might start this essential conversation because you’ve realised your loved one is having trouble completing tasks they’ve usually done with ease. Or, they might be experiencing a medical condition which is stopping them from doing what they love. When this happens, elderly people may brush off their diminished ability and might dismiss support offered to them. By reminding them that they can still live a lifestyle of their choosing while receiving necessary support, you’re opening up their outlook and tackling their biggest concern.

Conversation starter: “Do you think you would benefit from an extra hand around the house and garden?”
As a concerned friend or family member, it might seem that the best way to start a conversation is to ask this type of question straight away. Before you do this, take into consideration their mood and mindset: if they’re feeling tired, irritated or overwhelmed, it might be best to avoid this option. If you’re already observing difficulties they might be having while shopping for groceries and cleaning the house, this would be a great time to ask this question.

Conversation starter: “We can work together to find you the right support”
Whichever way you say this, remind your loved one that they’re not alone in the process of finding and connecting with support. If they’re open to receiving support, let them know they can be in the driver’s seat – especially if they want to remain as independent as possible. If they’re feeling overwhelmed by their situation, let them know you’re here to help and that you can completely organise their supports if that’s what they prefer.

As a close family member or friend, you’re the best judge of what support your loved one needs. To give them access to support, you may start by contacting My Aged Care who can complete a detailed aged care assessment. This might be a good option if your loved one is experiencing a change in their medical condition or if they need a hand financially to pay for support. You can also look into more direct forms of support such as online platforms like Better Caring.

Conversation starter: “Your funding gives you access to so many support options – let’s talk about which one would suit you”
If your loved one already receives or is about to receive financial support through a Home Care Package or the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, share with them the support options they might not know about. Let them know that their funding can be used in many ways, but make sure they don’t feel overwhelmed. A way to avoid this is to give them appropriate time to consider which form of support makes them feel most comfortable. For example, they may not be open having a different person come into their home each day to tidy up their living space and help prepare meals. Or, they may only want a worker to help them out between certain hours of the day.

Tell them that there are support options that can be tailored to them. Platforms like Better Caring can help them create long-lasting support connections with support workers who are willing to work flexibly with affordable hourly rates.

Conversation starter: “Support isn’t about taking away your independence – it’s about giving it back to you”
A conversation about receiving support can be difficult for both you and your loved one. If it becomes hard to communicate to them that they require support, give them some space and time or remind them that receiving support isn’t a hindrance to their independence and lifestyle, rather, it contributes to it.

Your loved one might feel overwhelmed or angry that you are starting this conversation with them and this might happen because they’re realising their lifestyle will soon change. Remind them that with the right kind of support, they can maintain their independence and freedom of choice.

If your loved one is ready for a support option that suits them, find out how to find support for your ageing parent.

Better Caring fosters thousands of connections between independent support workers and people that are seeking support. If your parent, family member or friend is looking for support that fits their lifestyle, take a look at Better Caring.

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