In the year 1900, the United States was home to only 3.1 million people over the age of 65. With the elderly population of the United States expected to burgeon to over 72 million by the year 2050, an increasing number of families are facing the issues that accompany aging.
Seniors today not only want to live longer, but more independently and productively. As active members of society, today’s elderly are often resistant to entering an assisted living facility, or even accepting help in their own homes, as they wish to maintain a sense of independence for as long as possible. The desire to grow old at home, or age in place, leaves family members in a unique position of providing care while simultaneously respecting the requests of their senior loved ones.
When It’s Time to Talk
While no one particularly likes the idea of admitting that they need help, it is imperative for families to sit down and discuss the stages of aging early on. By listening to the concerns, wants, needs and wishes of elderly individuals, families will be able to work together to formulate a plan and ensure that seniors can stay home for as long as possible.
Tips for Talking About Aging:
1. Approach the subject with a positive tone.
Rather than bringing up the idea of creating a plan suddenly and making older family members feel threatened, let them know that you’d like to chat and make a plan to meet. For instance, you might say, “Mom, I’d really like to talk about your hopes for your health over the next few years. Would you like to come over for coffee next week and we can sit down to talk?”
2. Listen to the concerns of your aging loved ones openly.
Although you may feel that they’re no longer capable of a task like driving, express that you understand how sacred independent tasks like that are. Offer solutions like a home care service or rides from you if they worry about running errands or getting to the doctor.
3. Don’t avoid the nitty-gritty.
Typically, seniors are well aware of the fact that their life is in its twilight years, and are more willing to talk about end-of-life plans than relatives may be. Allow your loved one to express their desires should they become gravely ill.
4. Involve a geriatric care manager.
If the subject becomes overwhelming for your family to handle alone, suggest hiring a geriatric care manager to help you navigate the ins and outs of senior care together. Oftentimes, seniors feel as though they are a burden to their family. Involving a care manager may help eliminate this burdensome worry as some of the stress is taken off of family caregivers.
5. Shop for care together.
If you decide that a home care service is the answer to an elderly loved one staying home, work together to find the right agency. By involving your elderly loved one in the process of hiring a home care agency, you’re more likely to find one that they’re comfortable with from the start. Additionally, hiring an agency that utilizes ClearCare homecare software will allow family members to remain up-to-date with the course of care via real-time updates. This increased level of communication with the in-home care agency will help bring a full circle approach to communication, as all of the parties involved with the care of a senior are kept up-to-date by professional caregivers in the field.
Discussing the trials and tribulations of aging can be frightening for both family members and their elderly loved ones. Work together to create a plan that works for your unique situation and always be prepared to discuss any issues that may arise as soon as possible. The more you communicate with one another, and with your home care agency, the happier aging can be!