Is it time to talk about home care with your dad? Reaching out for assistance can be an important step in helping your father to age in place comfortably, safely, and independently — but we know it’s not always easy to start this major conversation.
Why Senior Men Can Be Reluctant to Talk About Care
Oftentimes, men can be uncomfortable about having long or meaningful discussions, especially with their kids. Many fathers are trained to adopt a “provider” mindset, which can make it harder for them to acknowledge when they need help of their own. Your father may also belong to a generation that was cultured to “tough it out” and ignore their problems for the sake of others. As a result, he may be the type of person to deny, hide, or minimize any new health challenges or concerns as they come up.
For other men, resistance to talking about home care may come from a simple fear of change. After years of living life on his terms, your dad may see any little change to his daily life as an intrusion on his freedom and independence.
At the same time, senior men face plenty of health and lifestyle challenges that can make aging in place without help more difficult. Studies have shown that older men are particularly susceptible to a number of worrying chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, and diabetes. On top of these unique health concerns, senior men are also exposed to the same risks that all older adults face — including loneliness and social isolation; depression and anxiety; falls and accidents; difficulty with memory and concentration; and difficulty with driving and getting around.
Getting the Conversation Started: How to Talk About Home Care With Dad
In-home care can be a powerful way to help your dad enjoy a comfortable and independent life. Home care can enable your dad to get the hands-on assistance he needs to live life to the fullest, while also making sure he gets the social support and personalized attention he needs to truly thrive.
Still, talking about long-term care can be difficult — especially when you expect that your dad will be defensive, combative, or reluctant to accept help. As a result, many family members push off these important discussions until it’s too late.
One study actually found that less than a quarter of adults have had discussions about long-term care planning with their family members — even though 79% of people see these conversations as “important.”
So, what can you do to make this important conversation easier when the time is right? Here are four strategies to keep in mind as you get ready to talk with your senior dad about care:
Start Early, and Don’t Expect to Change Everything In One Conversation
The earlier you get started with these important talks, the better. Try to find time when everyone is relaxed and open to having a discussion, rather than waiting until after a stressful situation has already occurred.
Looking for conversation starters? It may be helpful to branch your conversation off of recent events in the news, or by talking about another member of your family or someone in the community. These discussions may also be easier if you bring on someone your dad trusts, such as a doctor, religious leader, or other members of your family.
Finally, remember to be patient, and go in with the expectation that you may need to start and stop this conversation a few times. Watch your dad for cues, and try not to push him if you suspect that he’s shutting down or getting ready to argue.
Have Specific Examples and Solutions Ready to Go
One of the best ways to make sure these important conversations go well is to do some homework ahead of time.
Prior to talking about home care with your dad, do a little research into the options and resources in your area, including details such as pricing. Meanwhile, keep an eye on your dad, and be ready to have a few examples of specific, challenging situations that he’s faced on hand.
Your dad may be swayed to take action if you can bring up specific scenarios, and explain how home care can help. For example, if he’s recently gotten lost on the way to the grocery store, you can explain that having a driver can make sure he’s able to run his errands safely, while still sticking to his preferred schedule. If he brings up concerns about the cost of care or the hassle of researching different care providers, you can also show that you’ve already done a lot of the legwork, and start addressing his concerns fairly and confidently.
Make Sure Your Dad Feels Included
Remember that your father is an adult, and should be treated with dignity, empathy, and respect. Rather than talking to him like a child, make sure you’re taking the time to truly listen, understand his perspective, and address his concerns.
As you have these crucial discussions, be sure to adopt an even, respectful tone; avoid taking the bait if your dad attempts to goad you into arguing; and try not to be condescending or infantilizing. Maintain eye contact and practice active listening, to make communication feel easier and more productive.
Meanwhile, be sure to keep your dad engaged in the process. He may be more willing to agree to a plan if he feels like he’s truly an active participant, at every step of the way. Make time to research caregivers and local service providers together, and trust him to ask questions and use his best judgment during interviews with prospective care professionals.
Emphasize the Upsides and Frame the Conversation Around Your Needs
Having an open and honest discussion about home care isn’t just about telling your dad what you think he wants to hear. However, it is an opportunity to present the many benefits of professional care, while also explaining your own wants and needs.
Think about the specifics of your dad’s situation, and how home care can help. For example, has he been complaining that he doesn’t have anyone to play cards with? A companion can step in and make sure he always has the social support he needs. Does your dad seem to have difficulty bathing or dressing, but is reluctant to ask you for help? You can explain that a caregiver can provide the assistance he needs, while being discreet, respectful, and safe.
Finally, don’t be afraid to bring up your own thoughts and concerns. It may help to talk about how getting home care is really about helping give you a break so that you can avoid stress and burnout, and take care of your own health and well-being. Your dad may be reluctant to accept help for himself, but he may be more willing to step up and make a change if he truly understands all of the ways it will benefit the people he loves.
Ready to Start the Search for Home Care for Your Dad?
Is it time to start thinking about taking care of the people who took such good care of you?
Home care is a way to ensure that senior men are able to get the practical and social support they need, while aging in place independently in the comfort and safety of home. In-home care is a proven way to help elderly adults live more independently, build stronger relationships, and maintain their health and well-being.
Interested in more strategies you can use to “break the ice” with Dad on this important topic? Ready to start exploring home care options in your area? Companions for Seniors is here to help make things easier, in any way we can.
Here at Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home, by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships. We believe in helping seniors maintain a higher quality of life, while providing respite and peace of mind for those family caregivers who could use some extra help.
We are locally owned in the Chicago area, with services available in the city and suburbs. Trained and bonded companions are available on a full- or part-time basis, and can offer driving services in the comfort of an insured company car, as well as assistance with activities of daily living, housekeeping, laundry, shopping and meal preparation, and social support.
Ready to get started? Curious about what sets us apart? Contact us online or give us a call at 866-910-9020 to get the home care answers you’ve been searching for.