Is it time to talk about home care with your mom? Reaching out for assistance can be an important step in helping your mother to age in place comfortably, safely, and independently — but we know it’s not always easy to start this heavy conversation.
Let’s take a look at why home care can be so beneficial for senior women, and what you can do to make these difficult conversations easier for your whole family:
Health and Lifestyle Challenges for Senior Women
For women, growing older tends to bring some unique health conditions and lifestyle challenges, which can prove stressful and difficult to manage alone.
Older women are susceptible to a number of chronic health conditions, including breast cancer, osteoporosis, and several different forms of arthritis — which can make it harder to get around, and increase the likelihood of experiencing a damaging fall or accident.
At the same time, studies have shown that women tend to live longer than men. In fact, women reportedly account for more than half of the population of elderly adults in this country. This means that women may be more likely to develop other significant health issues over time, such as chronic pain or cardiovascular disease. In addition to increasing the likelihood that they’ll experience the health challenges that come with aging, this also makes it more likely that elderly women will face some of the social and lifestyle challenges that come with aging in place, particularly the effects of loneliness and isolation.
For women who want to remain an active part of their community or spend time with family and friends, it can be difficult to feel cooped up at home, without access to driving services or public transit. Similarly, if your mom typically structured her day around cleaning, running errands, walking the dog, or working out, she may start to feel anxious, angry, or scared if it seems like she won’t be able to keep up the same active, independent daily routine forever.
For moms who grew used to serving a meal for their entire family, eating alone can feel sad or empty. A day full of watching the news can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety, with no outlet for relief. Over time, feeling isolated or lonely can significantly impact a person’s overall health — causing them to become more withdrawn and causing physical and mental effects such as insomnia, malnutrition, and depression.
When Talking About Care With Mom Becomes Difficult
In a survey, 79% of people say that they see talking about long-term care planning as “important” — and yet less than 25% of adults have actually had these crucial conversations.
We know how hard it can be to start these meaningful talks with the older adults in your life, particularly your mom! It can be incredibly intimidating to feel like you’re undergoing a “role reversal” with the woman who raised and cared for you and your siblings. What’s more, talking about long-term care almost always means talking about delicate subjects that many people are often raised to avoid bringing up, such as money, health, and end-of-life-planning.
These topics may be especially taboo if your mom grew up as part of the Greatest Generation or Silent Generation. Depending on her background, your mom may have been raised to avoid talking about her own health and well-being, or even sharing her deepest fears and most personal thoughts. This can make it difficult to talk openly about sensitive topics now — particularly if your mom still sees herself as the “caregiver” of the family, and won’t accept that her needs and abilities are changing. She may attempt to downplay your concerns, and minimize the issues and challenges she’s facing, even after a fall, a hospitalization, or another “yellow flag” that it’s time to get help.
How to Start the “Home Care” Conversation With Mom
Many families find it incredibly hard to have these big, important talks with mom — especially when your mother herself is the one who is reluctant to get help or think about long-term care planning.
So, what can you do to make this important conversation easier when the time is right? Here are a few strategies to keep in mind as you get ready to talk with your senior mother about home care:
Don’t Rush It
Keep in mind that you may not be able to bring up all of your ideas and concerns in just one talk. This is a conversation that you may need to hold a few times, or in fits and starts.
Try to start early, when everyone can have this important discussion with a clear head. It can be a lot more difficult to talk about care in a productive way after an accident or medical issue has already come up, when important decisions need to be made quickly. Instead of waiting, try to begin these conversations and come up with a plan before you need one, so everyone can be on the same page when the time is right.
Looking for ways to start the conversation? It may help to start with bigger topics or ideas, and then narrow in on the specifics. For example, if your mom is concerned about money, start by talking about the benefits of home care, before getting into the nuts and bolts later. Your mom may also be willing to talk more openly if you start by focusing on a current news story, or sharing your thoughts about a friend or family member who has gone through something similar.
Emphasize Your Needs
If she’s like many people, your mom may still see herself as “mom” or “grandmom” first — which can cause her to put her own needs second. One way to make conversations about care more meaningful and productive may be to center your own needs. While your mom may be reluctant to talk about getting help for herself, she may be more willing to listen if she understands how home care can help lessen the load on you or other members of the family, reducing your stress levels and giving you back time to take care of your own health, focus on work, or just relax.
Explain the Benefits of Care, and Have Specifics Ready to Go
Do some homework ahead of time. Before talking seriously about home care with your mom, do a little research into the options and resources in your area, including details such as pricing. This way, if your mom 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 her concerns with confidence.
Similarly, it may help to prepare ahead of time by thinking about specific challenges your mom is facing, and how home care can help. For example, if she’s having issues with working in her backyard garden or going on walks around the neighborhood, you can emphasize how a caregiver can help her continue to remain active. If she wants to see more plays and operas in the city, you can talk about all of the ways that a companion can help her stay connected to the things that matter most.
Be Patient, Empathetic, and Ready to Listen
Remember that your mother is an adult, and should be treated with dignity, empathy, and respect. Don’t talk down to her, and takt time to truly listen to her ideas and respond fairly to her concerns.
To keep the conversation moving forward, try to avoid falling into arguments. Maintain eye contact and practice active listening, to make communication feel easier and more productive.
Meanwhile, be sure to keep your mom engaged in the process. She may be more willing to agree to a plan if she feels like she’s truly an active participant. Research caregivers and local service providers together, and get your mom involved by having her ask questions during interviews with prospective care professionals.
Ready to Start the Search for Care?
When it’s time to care for the people who took such good care of you, home care can be a wonderful place to start.
Home care is a way to ensure that senior women 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 get the conversation started with Mom 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 our companions apart? Contact us online or give us a call at 866-910-9020 to get the home care answers you’ve been searching for.