Crawford Care Management

Anticipating Future Care Needs

Question:
I’m very concerned about my mother. She appears to be slipping somewhat – having problems remembering conversations, keeping appointments, and even taking medications. My mother lives alone and I’m worried about her safety. We’ve never discussed long-term care arrangements before. She’s fiercely independent and refuses to accept help from outsiders. How can I talk to her about my concerns without making her angry?

Answer:
You’re talking about a subject that’s always difficult to broach. Many people see accepting outside help as a loss of independence – or even a punishment for becoming forgetful. It’s easy to upset an aging loved one by voicing your concerns in a way that suggests he or she may be less than competent, so don’t start the conversation by pointing out all the ways in which your mother is “slipping.” Rather, start out by showing that you are protective of her. For example: “ Mom, I have always planned to help you have anything you need or would like to have. I just want to make sure that you’re safe and comfortable. I want to introduce you to a care manager who is familiar with all kinds of services that will make this possible.” When your mother sees that your objective is to protect her independence, not usurp it, she may become more receptive. Remember, the key is that many problems can be prevented just by being proactive. Even if your mother does become angry, you still need to discuss care arrangements with her now. All too often, children put off this difficult task until there is some kind of crisis – and a host of eleventh-hour decisions to make. Care managers are trained to handle these family communication issues with sensitivity, compassion and respect. If you just can’t face your mother alone, ask a care manager to accompany you.