Watching your parents get older is a worrying time. Of course, we know that ageing is inevitable, and it will come to us all, but when your parents, the mother and father who raised you, begin to show signs of struggling with the activities of daily living, it can be a hard pill to swallow.
No child, because that what you will still feel like when you are around them, wants to see this happen, but we have to accept the fact that at some stage, our parents are going to need extra help in their personal care and routine.
Perhaps you’ve raised this issue with them before perhaps a few times, and received the same answer – a big, fat no. It’s not surprising, nobody wants to lose their independence, and that is what it will feel like to them.
So, how can you ensure they still get the care services they need, without a struggle?
There is always the off chance that a family member will be able to move in with them, but they are unlikely to accept that either. The point is that your parents do not want to be interfered with, they do not want to consider moving into a nursing home, they don’t want to think about living facility options and everything that is associated with it. Can you blame them? Would you want to think about it?
It’s vital to see this from their point of view, and not to become frustrated, or start acting like the parent yourself. An option to look into however is the idea of hiring a personal assistant.
What is a Personal Assistant/Live-in Caregiver?
Basically, a personal assistant is someone who your parent or parents can forge a bond with, someone who will be like a companion and friend to them, but someone who is also there to help them with the tasks they struggle with, such as personal care or regular daily living tasks.
Of course, there are care costs to take into consider, just like there would be if you were involving a nursing home, but the idea is that your parents get to feel more like themselves, because they will remain in their own home. The personal assistant can be a live-in caregiver, e.g. they can live with them and work set hours as required, or they can simply visit on set hours of the day. It’s really about coming up with the best solution for your parents’ needs, and the level of care they require. Do they require around-the-clock care? In that case, a live-in arrangement would work well. If not, perhaps a live-out personal assistant could be the answer.
A personal assistant will do pretty much the same as a caregiver would in a nursing home, but the difference is that there is no living facility involved. This often helps elderly people feel more calm and happy with the arrangement. It’s not difficult to understand this – many people have lived in their homes for decades, and just because age it ticking, they don’t want to leave. Would you want to? Probably not. It’s vital to keep this in your mind, as we mentioned before.
A personal assistant will be highly trained, to the same standards as any caregiver in a nursing home and will have experience of working with a wide range of elderly people. Finding the right personality to fit in with your parents is of course important, but once they gel, you’ll probably find they become as thick as thieves!
How to Raise The Conversation
The point is that your parents have already refused help, assuming you have had the conversation more than one time already. They are not being stubborn, and they are not being difficult – remember, this is their life and when talk of nursing homes and care services comes into the equation, everyone can get a little on the defensive side.
Be calm, be open to discussion, and don’t dictate the situation to your parents, they’re not children. It’s important that you don’t start wagging your finger and telling them what is going to happen; this is an open conversation and a discussion about the possibility of something, not a definite answer.
Explain what a personal assistant is, and it might also be useful to show some written literature, to back up your discussion. Emphasise the fact that this is a great piece of middle ground, because they can remain in their own home, continue with their daily lives, with interruption, but that the care is there for them, to help them when they need it.
Keep the conversation positive, and don’t become disheartened if you come up against a brick wall. The more you show that this is a great option, the more likely it is that your parents will accept it in the end. Be prepared to leave them with the idea and revisit the conversation at a later date, perhaps in a day or two.
This isn’t, and shouldn’t be, an ultimatum, it is a choice you are presenting to your parents, to see if it is something they would be comfortable with. Remember, they’re the ones that have to live with it at the end of the day.
It can be very difficult for an adult in this situation, because you can see the help is required, but your parents cannot; or perhaps they can, but don’t want to admit it just yet.
At the end of the day, a personal assistant is a great source of middle ground, and in these situations, the personal assistant and the elderly person usually end up becoming the best of friends!
Exploring care service options is a difficult conversation to have, but it is one which is needed, in order to ensure the health, wellbeing, and safety of your parents.