Approaching That Difficult Subject | By Donna Ivey

Your loved one may need home care. This can be a difficult subject to discuss.

Some suggested methods to help ease any resistance are:

  • If your loved one’s health and safety are at issue, be direct and communicate your concerns. Push the discussion forward.
  • Involve others such as clergy, physicians, or a geriatric care manager
  • Utilize community resources such as Area Agency on Aging

During the discussion, make sure you focus on what your loved one’s issues and concerns are; not what your personal issues are or what you perceive their concerns to be. They are much more likely to hear your concerns and accept your suggestions if they feel as if they are an integral part of the conversation. It is strongly suggested that you have a “family meeting” prior to your discussion with the designated loved one. This will give the family an opportunity to process emotions, brainstorm ideas and come together with a mutually agreed upon plan. This will help illustrate to your loved one that everyone is united in love, concern and commitment to meeting their needs. The term “strength in numbers” certainly does apply here.

After having a family meeting with your designated loved one where everyone has an opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts, gently suggest that the loved one make an appointment with their physician to have a thorough evaluation. An appointment with a geriatric psychologist may be necessary depending on your loved one’s condition. This professional evaluation can go a long way in helping them decide that they can benefit from some assistance in their home. Don’t nag them about this evaluation- simply plant the seed and water it from time to time. Eventually, most elders realize that they cannot care for themselves as they used to. Seeing a doctor seems to make this decision easier.

Be direct and speak with your loved one about scheduling an appointment with a home care agency to come out and meet with them. This will allow your loved one to get a better understanding of what a home health care agency can do for them. Be specific about the tasks a caregiver will and will not perform. Let them know that they are still in control and that the home care process enables them to continue engaging in daily living activities in a safe and satisfying manner. Utilizing an agency can add significantly to everyone’s peace of mind.

Finally, keep all of your discussions with them positive. Treat them as an equal participant- don’t parent! It is important to let your loved one make decisions. Your job is to help them make the decision, not to make decision for them.


Here are some considerations when involving your loved one in a conversation about the possibility of home care:

  • Your loved one must be the focus of all discussions and be totally involved (assuming their mental capabilities are up to the task)
  • Voice your opinions using “I” statements
  • Have a clear topic of every discussion
  • Be assertive about your thoughts
  • Be respectful of other opinions (especially your loved one’s)
  • Be mindful that it may take some time and several conversations to arrive at a consensus
  • Don’t blame others or use “You” Statements
  • Don’t try to accomplish too much in one conversation
  • Don’t expect that this will be easy; preparation, patience, and team work help immensely

Donna Ivey is the Founder/Administrator of I-CARE

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