I was recently commissioned by Premier Care in Bathing to give my thoughts on the topic – How do you talk to older relatives about moving to a care home. Premier Care in Bathing is one of the first ever companies to specialise in the installation of bathrooms specifically designed for customers with mobility needs. They are on a mission to encourage families to talk more openly about how to make our homes safe for older family members.
How do you talk with older relatives about moving to a care home
Some conversations are difficult to have.
Nobody wants to think about the losses of independence and mobility that may accompany older age – they make us feel sad and uncomfortable, so we avoid thinking and talking about them often until it’s too late. When our relative has that fall or becomes too frail to manage their current home then we have those tricky conversations.
These conversations around vulnerability and the future may be difficult but they are important and essential really for safety and the peace of mind of everyone concerned.
My Aunty Jane is my closest older relative, she is in her early 70’s and a fiercely independent lady. My sister and I are the ones happily responsible for supporting my aunty in her older age and Premier Care gave me that push to have that difficult conversation with her.
With her permission and because I would like to inspire you to do the same here is what we talked about.
My Interview with my aunt about her future
- Have you ever talked to someone about where you will be living when you get older?
No, I’ve not really ever discussed this as it is not an issue yet.
- Would you prefer to stay home or move where you can get support as you get older (e.g. sheltered housing, assisted living, living with family)? Why?
I would definitely want to stay at home, I am a bit of a loner and like my own space.
- What do you think would be the most challenging aspect about staying home as you get older?
Perhaps if I lose my mobility as I live fairly remotely and not to be able to drive would be hard.
- Have you ever considered making home improvements, such as safety measures or home adaptations to enable you to stay home for longer?
Yes, I have put rails on the steps outside my mobile home and a I have a seat for my bath.
- What would motivate you to make improvements to your home?
Spare money to do so would help I would mend my broken bathroom floor it is a bit of a fall hazard.
- Do you know much about what kind of home adaptations are available?
I have some ideas about this but I live in a small mobile home so a lot of them would be impractical.
- Are there areas in your home that don’t feel safe / might not be safe if you had limited mobility?
Yes bathroom is unsafe at present as floor quite uneven/broken – if my mobility got worse this would be an issue
- Would you consider moving from your place (e.g. sheltered housing, assisted living, living with family)?
If the time came that due to my mobility I had to move I would like a small place of my own with warden support.
- What would be your main criteria?
Stanley would have to be able to come with me (Stanley is Aunty Jane’s cat)
and I would want a garden and someone to help do my cleaning and as much privacy and independence as possible.
- Have you ever looked into it?
No I am not ready yet and do not have the money.
- How do you feel about having this discussion?
Perfectly comfortable and absolutely fine
- Would you rather us have this conversation or not have it?
Good to talk about this
What do you think would make it easier?
- That you just listened rather than judged my thoughts and ideas
My thoughts on difficult conversations with older relatives
- How do you feel about the discussion you just had with your relative? Good, relieved I know her wants and wishes and more confident about how we can best support her when the time comes. Also pleased I know about her bathroom problems so I can look into supporting her with this
- Is it a discussion you were planning to have with them? Well yes, I had considered having this conversation but I suppose I was a bit scared of how uncomfortable it would make us both. I need not have worried
- Is it a discussion you thought you’d ever have with them? Yes, one day
- How do you think it went? Really well, it felt both useful and important
- With hindsight, how would you bring about this conversation? I would never just spring it on someone, it needs time and care and sensitivity so I would plan for it and prepare my relative for the sensitive questions
- What advice would you give to other families? Talk about things, your relatives wants and wishes and thoughts and feelings may well be different from what you anticipate. The very best way of supporting someone is to be open and frank about what they feel and what they need. For us this is no longer a taboo subject and it feels respectful and useful to have opened up this dialogue.
How do you talk to older relatives about moving to a care home is a collaborative post