How to talk about later life care

How to talk about later life care

Author: Philippa Thompson

There are some things in life that many of us find difficult to talk about and often residential care is one of them. Yet it’s important to broach the conversation with elderly relatives before the need arises. In this article we look at ways to open the conversation in a positive way.

How to talk about later life care with older loved ones

In life there are certain things we feel uncomfortable talking about and for older people, the topic of care in later life can be one of them. They may feel fearful of an impending loss of independence, sensitive about the fact they may not be able to care for themselves as they get older or perhaps that they will be forced to make decisions they aren’t ready to make. And if you’re the one starting the conversation, it may be no less daunting for you!

However, as BT once said, it’s good to talk.

With that in mind let’s take a look at things to consider when addressing the question of later life care.

Starting the conversation

The hardest part is instigating the initial conversation in a sensitive manner, keeping in mind that talking about what may happen in the future is likely to be an emotional conversation for all involved. None of us like to think about the inevitability of ageing or ill health and you may face some resistance from your loved one.

Focusing the conversation of their wants and needs will help to ensure they feel included in the process rather than feeling that a particular care route is being forced upon them. Talk about what matters most to them as they get older and what the best solution might be to achieve their desired outcomes.

Starting the conversation long before care is needed is also important as their mental capacity may not always be as good as it is now. Sadly a loss of mental capacity can often make a difficult topic even more challenging to navigate.

Questions to ask

You might think you know your loved ones preferences, however, when you start talking about it, you might be surprised by some of their responses. Here are some questions you might find useful:

Where do you want to be cared for in the future?

Whilst you might assume they will be resistant to leave their home, this may not be the case. For example, if they feel isolated at home they may have already considered the benefits of moving to a home where there is a community they can be part of.

What do you want to do?

Would they prefer to move to a warden assisted retirement community where they can dip in and out of community activities? Or would they enjoy a residential home with regular activities and outings to participate in?

What are you worried about?

They may be harbouring concerns about losing touch with friends or family by moving to care, or they could be worried about the financial implications of their decision. There may also be concerns about a loss of independence or freedom, or the perception that living in a home means being told what to do and when.

What matters to you?

As we journey through our lives, what matters most to us changes according to our age and personal circumstances. This is no less true for your loved ones as they get older. Their personal needs and priorities will be different now to years ago. Perhaps they yearn to live near the sea, or would miss not being able to venture into a bustling town or city when the mood takes them, perhaps being able to spend plenty of time close to nature means that garden space will be high priority.

Respect their sensitivities

When you are in a caring role for an elderly loved one it can be easy to slip into a reversal of the parent and child relationship. Keep in mind that, even if you do care for them to some degree, they are an adult with their own opinions. Respecting their sensitivities around the changes ahead will create space to have positive conversations. In turn this will avoid putting your loved one in a position where they feel forced or coerced into agreeing to decisions they are comfortable with.

Exploring life at The Dower House

At The Dower House we understand that choosing the best solution for later life care is a big decision and can’t be rushed. Our team is experienced in helping families understand their options and assess if life at The Dower House is the right path for their loved one.

If you are researching options for residential care, and would like to find out more about life at The Dower House, simply call 01962 882848 or visit our website to see our home and grounds.

*At the time of writing, the UK was in the process of lifting Covid-19 restrictions, including rules on visiting residents in care homes. We will resume full tours and unrestricted visits in due course and as appropriate to protecting the health and wellbeing of our residents and staff.

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