Care for Older People: Asking the right questions

If you have elderly parents, the idea of talking to them about what happens when they need more support may seem like a nightmare. However, it's a key part of finding the right care solution for them and understanding what matters most to them.

This is important as it can make the process of going into care less stressful for you and them, but it's also worth bearing in mind that their mental capacity may not be as good as it is now forever. Even if your relatives aren't diagnosed with dementia or another memory-affecting condition, discussing care options with them when they need it right then and there can be a confusing and daunting task for older people.

So it's important that you have conversations with your parents about what sort of care support they'd want when they need it. But what questions should you ask and how do you bring up such a delicate subject?

Do you want to stay in your home?

Some older people want to stay in their own home for as long as possible, while others feel isolated and would benefit from the community that comes with residential support. It's important that you find out which is a bigger priority to your loved one so that you can make the best decision for them.

What would you want to do?

Whether your parent needs a nursing or care home, there's a wide range of activities to keep them busy throughout the day. For instance, if they love gardening or crafting, you can find a solution that has these options for residents. However, if being involved in the community is a bigger priority to them then you can find homes that have close ties to local schools and neighbourhoods.

What worries you?

Perhaps one of the most difficult questions, but finding out what their biggest concerns are is the best way to reassure them. They may be worried that they won't see their family if they went into residential care or that they wouldn't be able to afford it. Regardless of what concerns them, finding it out is the best way to plan for the future and ensuring the right care plan is in place to help them.

What matters to you?

Older people have different priorities depending on the type of lifestyle they lead. It may be that being able to go outside and explore green spaces is key, while others may find being close to their current friends and family much more important. There are a wide variety of care homes all over the country so finding out what matters to your parent/s can really help guide your decision.

Sparking the conversation

Care can be a sensitive subject so it's important that you reassure your parents that nothing is going to happen right now, but that you just want to know that you're able to act in their best interests if the time does come.

Discussing care options for the future doesn't even necessarily mean leaving their home as there are many solutions to help older people live an independent life, such as day visits and respite care.

Have you talked to your parents about care? It's important that you get the right information and support yourself. Join our online debate by using #SparkConversation to find out how others are speaking to their loved ones about support for the future.