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Initiating a conversation about aged care can be tough. For some, this can mean the first step towards a gradual loss of independence. If you think your loved one may require extra help, don’t shy away from having a chat with them – it’s an important conversation to have, and one that deserves your time and patience.

For tips on how to broach the delicate topic with loved ones, we spoke to aged care expert and Care Guidance CEO, Lydia Paterson. Here was her advice.

When is the right time to talk about aged care?

Starting the conversation early is almost always the best approach. Talking about aged care before it’s actually needed gives the whole family time to adjust to the idea, helping to alleviate unnecessary stress when it comes time to begin the transition.

The last thing you want to do is make a loved one feel pressured to make a decision, so keep it casual and try to maintain an ongoing dialogue. If you’re struggling to initiate the conversation, it can help to point out that you’re raising the issue to avoid having to make a rushed decision during a health crisis.

Who should be involved in the discussion?

It’s important to have an open conversation with the whole family so everyone’s thoughts and concerns are heard. But that isn’t the same thing as a family-wide argument in the lounge room. Try to resolve any disagreements before raising the issue with your elderly parent or spouse so as not to overwhelm them with conflicting opinions.

When it does come time to have the conversation, make a special effort to listen to their concerns, anxieties or hesitations about entering care. Then make your own concerns about their safety and wellbeing clear and explain how you think aged care might help.

Misconceptions around aged care are commonplace, so can be helpful to explain the range of options available and what they involve. And if you know of a family friend who has successfully transitioned into residential or home care, introducing their story into the conversation can be a great way to put a human face to the situation.

What is the best approach to help a loved one make their own decision whilst ensuring it’s the best option for their wellbeing?

Be patient – it’s a big decision and not one that they should feel rushed into. Explore their options with them so they feel involved in the process. Reassure them that transitioning to aged care doesn’t mean giving up what they love. The right care should enhance their lifestyle, not detract from it.

Once you’ve given them the information they need, give them time to ponder on it. And if you’re not completely comfortable with your level of knowledge, our friendly experts at Care Guidance are always willing to chat to them about their options.

Do you have tips for talking to someone who is resistant to aged care?

Give them options rather than advice. Providing them with choices allows them to retain a sense of independence and control over their own future. If they’re still resistant, consider asking someone they trust to chat to them instead. Perhaps they’ll listen to a close friend, neighbour, or even their GP.

Who can families talk to about planning aged care for a loved one?

If you’re ready to begin the planning process, or just simply want more information, you can give our team at Care Guidance a call on 1300 442 383 for an obligation-free chat. Our experts can discuss everything from the types of care available in your area, costs involved, and answer any other burning questions you may have.