Getting the family to agree on an elder care plan for an aging loved one

Building consensus with those who matter most

Maybe you’ve noticed Mom needing more help with cooking. Maybe you’ve noticed Dad becoming more forgetful. The signs that aging is starting to impact day-to-day living can start small, but have a big impact on your aging loved one.

If you’re ready to take action and make an elder care plan for your aging parent or loved one, your first step is to talk with your family. The reality is that the whole family will need to have a consensus on what kind of care your aging loved one will receive, and how. Having the support of family members, and the reiteration to your parent that this care plan is positive and helpful is irreplaceable.

You might encounter pushback like: the family can handle this internally, it’s not that bad, it would be a waste of money to bring in outside help... These are common reactions. First, children of aging parents might not be wanting to believe that their parent is truly in need of assistance. Second, moments of stress—such as having to create an elder care plan for a parent—can make emotional family dynamics more prevalent than logic or analysis.

So how can you get your family members onto the same page and writing a good care plan for your parent?

1. Focus on your parent.

Open the conversation by noting what you want to achieve: finding a good way forward for Mom or Dad to stay in good health and have the help they need to have a good quality of life. If the conversation drifts away from Mom or Dad, steer it back by saying something like, “let’s focus on what Mom’s needs are” or “can you help me brainstorm what tasks Dad is really struggling with?” Staying on track and focused on your parent’s needs helps avoid other family dynamics, and highlights why you’re having this conversation in the first place.

2. Track the daily activities and struggles of your parent.

When you start to notice your parent struggling with activities that used to be easy, make a note of that in a special journal or a special page in your cell phone notes. Having data to back up the assertion that Mom or Dad needs help will help to convince family members that the need is real. Especially when family members are remote or not physically present with your parent, having examples at hand of what is happening with Mom or Dad will help explain what’s going on. It will also help caregivers and other healthcare providers to understand what your Mom or Dad actually needs. So if you see Mom or Dad struggling to remember something, to complete a daily chore, or struggling with mobility and other physical tasks, write it down.

3. Avoid solo decision-making with your parent.

Your parent might feel awkward about a group conversation about their health, but it’s important to have the conversation held openly and to engage all family members in this decision-making process. Having one-on-one conversations or making decisions alone about your parent can not only isolate your parent, but cuts other family members out of the caregiving process. Caregiving requires lots of help from lots of people, and it’s important to respect the ties that all your family members have to your parent.

Families might disagree about a lot of things, but aging parents deserve top-quality elder care. Senior Homecare by Angels is dedicated to increasing the quality of life for all our clients through respectful, compassionate home care services. When your family is ready to explore in-home elder care, contact our friendly staff to learn more about what we can do for you and your family.

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