Loss of independence is a common fear among our clients, who want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. This same fear often drives a reluctance to accept professional caregiving services like those we offer.
When a family member needs additional care, it can be challenging to share those concerns, and to come to a consensus within the family on how to best meet those needs. Please click here for a previous blog about this.
Following a few basic tips can avoid division and conflict and effectively shape the conversation into one about maintaining independence instead of losing control.
Understand the Fear of Losing Control
For many older adults, continuing to manage their own daily needs gives them a sense of control. Cooking meals, keeping up with tasks around the house and running errands are an extension of our personality and our individual tastes. Often, the need for help arises at a time when a loved one might also be losing control of their hearing, sight or mobility. This can leave people feeling powerless, and cause them to hold on to control in other areas.
Frame the conversation in a way that presents a caregiver as someone to help your loved one do more of the things they enjoy, rather than someone to do everything for them. By focusing on what can be gained with a helping hand, instead of what will be taken away, it can help care recipient to gain control over areas that are more important to them.
The best time to discuss the value of caregiver services is before help is ever needed. Part of being an Intentional Family is being proactive about issues before you are forced to deal with them. Starting the conversation early can help a family member view the decision as one of love and support, rather than a threat to their independence.
Planting the seed and sharing opinions on care early creates an environment of collaboration. Your loved one will understand your desire to preserve their quality of life at home. You might also gain insight on the areas of independence that are most important to your family member, and their wishes for how care is delivered.
The conversation will create a predetermined plan for care, and when it is needed, everyone involved will be working through the plan in place.
Remember, this is a discussion, not a decision. Spend as much time listening to your loved one’s point of view as you spend sharing your own. Hearing their perspective will allow you to switch roles and look at the situation from their point of view.
Do they properly acknowledge and understand the areas you are concerned about? Are they confident that the motivation behind this discussion is their best interests? Ask questions to determine the reasons behind their reaction, as they could be a result of more significant issues. Often, our loved ones might know caregiver support is the right decision, but falsely associate it with entering the twilight of their lifetime.
Similarly, help your family member place themselves in your role. Share your fears and concerns over the consequences if care is not provided. Explain your inability to provide the care necessary, and how it differs from an unwillingness to do so. If there is a need to reduce the roles or responsibilities of care already being delivered, illustrate the negative effects the current situation is having on your well-being.