How do you talk to parents about care at home?

Talking to parents about needing care at home can be a very difficult subject to broach. You're not alone. We've heard from lots of people who are at this stage.

You’re not alone. 75% of adults haven’t had discussions about planning for the future with parents (Merrill Lynch study). Perhaps you know you need some support, but don't quite know how to go about the conversation. 

Most calls come from the children of loved ones needing care, it's rare for the person needing care to seek care themselves and It's common for them to claim they don't need care. 

Where do you turn for support? Where can you find advice? Where are the tips? 

First let's consider why parents or grandparents may be reluctant to have care at home.

1. They may still view you as the child. Because of the parent/child relationship, they are uncomfortable with you telling them or advising them what to do.

2. They may be worried that they will become a burden.

3. They may think that the support will cost too much and that this will have an impact on how much they are able to leave for their family.

4. They may see receiving care and support as a loss of their control and independence.

5. They me worried about getting older and the obstacles which come with ageing. 

So how to prepare for a conversation about care and support?

1. Prepare - Plan the conversation - Which Magazine recommends, for an increased chance of a positive response, considering what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it and when the best time for the chat will be.

Do some research on solutions, support and advice and the funding available (see our free guide).

Choose a place and time where distractions will be at a minimum. 

2. The conversation - Reassure - There may be feelings such as anxiety, fear of losing independence, dignity and also feelings of reluctance about home care. Be empathic and understanding; acknowledge what the person is saying and listen. 

3. How to start? - Metlife in the US recommends using open-ended questions that will enable a discussion rather than closed questions which can be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and will result in a short unsuccessful conversation. Which magazine has some useful sentence/conversation starters… 

'Is there anything that is worrying you or that you are having difficulty with?'

'I would like to talk about .... so that we can work out if there’s anything we can do to make your life easier/more comfortable.'

'I would like to make sure that you are happy with ... If not, there might be things that we can do together to help.'

4. Support for yourself - Is there someone who can be with you and support you during the conversation. Could a professional such as a GP, social worker or other professional support you in a second conversation? Could you arrange a Local Authority care needs assessment which is free of any cost? We are here for support and to listen, maybe you'd like to call. 

5. Take time - Don't expect your loved one to accept or be co-operative in a conversation the 1st time. Maybe it's not the correct time yet? Give them time, show them and demonstrate you want the best for them. 

6. Start with a 2 week trial - Maybe suggest a slow or soft start to the care and support and build up. 

We asked Malcolm, our experienced GP and part of the CareChooser team for his thoughts on how to get the care started if your loved ones aren't keen or reject the idea.

Malcolm recommends having a carer visit for a chat alone or with the family waiting in a different room to give them time and space to get used to the idea and to meet the person and chat without any pressure. He also recommends building up the support starting with small amounts of time to build confidence and a strong relationship. 

Perhaps you'd like to have a further chat or would like some help and support with any specific issues you are having. Our advisors are on 0208 886 0686 or you could request a call back with the form on the right. 


Re-published and updated. Originally published in February 7th 2017.

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