When you are a family caregiver to a senior parent there are a lot of conversations that can be awkward and uncomfortable. Talking to your senior loved one about personal care is one of them. It’s embarrassing for many seniors to have to deal with incontinence, trouble showering, or difficulty using the toilet. They probably don’t want to discuss it with anyone, especially their children. But seniors have no reason to be embarrassed. Personal care at home allows seniors the dignity of being in charge of their personal care with some help from a trained and experienced caregiver. Personal care at home is a fantastic service for seniors aging in place who are finding it more difficult than they thought to attend to personal care tasks.
But in most cases they are not going to bring up the topic of personal care at home. You will need to bring it up when you start to notice the signs that they might need personal care. And that can be awkward. These tips should make it a little easier to talk to your senior parent about personal care at home:
When you choose your words and your tone for this conversation remember that your senior parent grew up in a very different time when talking about subjects like difficulty with personal care was taboo. Your senior parent could have a hard time talking about the precise problems that they’re having. Be patient and compassionate so that they will be able to talk to you about their needs. And if they seem truly uncomfortable ask if they would rather talk to a doctor or someone else about what they need. If they do prefer to talk to someone else you can work with that person to make sure that your senior loved one gets the help they need.
Reassure Them There’s No Reason To Be Embarrassed
Remember that your senior parent took care of your personal needs for many years too, so there’s really no reason to be embarrassed to talk about these things. Humor is a great way to defuse the situation and make it more comfortable for everyone. Be matter-of-fact and remind them that it’s very common for seniors to have these issues.
Stay Focused on Solutions
Keep the conversation focused on solutions and not on the problems that your senior loved one is having. Remember that the point of the conversation is find solutions that will work for them and not to dwell on the negative. Don’t blame them if they have soiled the bed, for example, or shame them for things like wearing dirty clothes or not combing their hair. Suggest personal care at home and then share some information about it so that your senior parent can get a better understanding of what personal care is and how it can help them.
It’s ok if the first conversation doesn’t go perfectly. You can always end the conversation and try again when your senior loved one is more ready to talk about it.