We’ve all been there, someone we care about and love is starting to struggle with day to day living. For me it’s a family member, newly diagnosed with Parkinsons, whose mobility is becoming increasingly compromised. How do you broach the changing situation and needs with someone who has always been a competent, confident person without further robbing them of their sense of independence? Until recently my family member was hopping on a train heading up to London, driving her car and was very independent. As she now needs a stick to walk with, it’s time to have a sympathetic chat about what we can do to keep her independent whilst reassuring the wider family she is safe and help is at hand if needed.
Your first step should be to identify what you are worried about. Is it someone being on their own at home, not being able to get out and about or a more general sense that your loved one is not coping with the onset of age or a long-term condition that’s maybe limiting their lifestyle?
Secondly what do you want to achieve with this conversation? Is it about understanding how your loved one feels or are you hoping they will accept some help? What does that help look like? Are you thinking about a wearable alarm, someone popping in daily, downsizing, a move to sheltered accommodation?
Its important when having these conversations to listen to your loved one. This is, after all their life. Your loved one may have an entirely different view about what is happening. Any decisions made should be their decision. Someone who is already feeling they are losing some control over their life is not going to respond well to being told what is going to happen. You can lay out some options but be prepared for this not being a single conversation, hopefully it will be the start of an ongoing dialogue. As a condition progresses or age catches up with us, what we are capable of doing will naturally change. A solution for today may not be a solution for two years time. Continuing the conversation allows you to offer additional information.
Ask your loved one if they have concerns. You could start with a conversation couched around something you’ve noticed. For instance “you don’t seem to be in the garden as much as you used to”. Listen to what you are being told. If you are not engaged in this as a two-way discussion it’s likely that it won’t go anywhere. Be prepared for your loved one to disagree with you about either help that is needed or where they are in terms of needing support. Organisations like Dementia UK or Age UK have resources which you can access if you are worried about someone.
Approaching these conversations sympathetically is key and once you have together, taken the first step of your loved one recognising they need a little help to make their day-to-day life easier, then you can start to put a plan in place. A plan that will ultimately help them live more independently in their home for longer, with greater peace-of-mind.
Some of those will be practical steps – online shopping, wearable devices, help with cleaning or gardening, some maybe more around emotional support – checking in with your loved one ensuring that their voice is heard.
At Mi-Guardian we are committed to helping people stay independent and living confidently. Contact us today to find out what solutions we can offer
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