Senior Home Care Blog - Western Cook & Eastern DuPage Counties

Plan Ahead to Talk About Care

By Mary L. Doepke, RN

The holidays bring families together. Sometimes, they’re surprised at what they come home to.

This is the time of year when adult children visiting from far away might notice unexpected, concerning changes in their parents - changes that may mean it's time to talk about care for Mom and Dad.

Perhaps the yard that Dad once fussed over is overgrown with weeds. Are there piles of mail, stacks of dirty dishes or other signs that your parents can no longer care for their house alone?

Is the food stocked with fresh food? What about the car? Do you notice any unexplained dents or scratches that might indicate that Mom or Dad shouldn’t be driving?

Are you loved ones caring for themselves by bathing, grooming and wearing clean clothes?

Any of these could be a sign that it’s time to consider some extra help. And although starting that conversation can be tough, preparing ahead for a talk about care can help it to go more smoothly.

“I don’t need any help.”

This likely will be the first answer to your suggestion that your parents consider some help around the house. But perhaps they don’t realize what a caregiver can do for them.

Explain to your parents that a caregiver can make their lives easier by doing the dishes, preparing meals and cleaning up around the house. Let them know that caregivers only do what they are asked to do, and no one is going to force them out of their own kitchen or into a shower. It’s their house, and they are still in charge.

Resistance is normal. Try to introduce the idea of care slowly and in small pieces. For example, hire a caregiver to come in just once or twice a week. This may allow your loved one to get used to the idea of accepting help.

“It costs too much.”

Yes, hiring a caregiver is an extra expense. But remind your parents they have worked hard throughout their lives, and they deserve a break.

Having a caregiver to help with meals, keep up with housework and offer medication reminders are all things that can help keep your parents safe, healthy, and in their own home. Not only is that far less expensive than an assisted living facility or nursing home, it’s what most people want as they age.

Keep in mind that longterm care insurance and life insurance policies can be used toward the cost of a caregiver. Veterans who meet certain criteria also are eligible for financial benefits.

Contact Veterans Care Coordination at or (800) 380-4400 to learn more.

 “I don’t want a stranger in my house.”

This can be a tough one, because unless a friend of relative is prepared to take on the job, a caregiver will, at least in the beginning, be a stranger to your loved one.

Help ease their worries by ensuring them that the person coming into your home is not only trained, he or she also has undergone an extensive background check and personal interview.

At Home Helpers, perspective caregivers must pass a criminal background check, a drug test and must have a good driving record, in addition to making a good impression on our care managers.

Try to arrange your schedule around the caregiver’s first visit or two. Be there to discuss your parents’ needs and preferences, and to run interference, if need be. Once your parent sees that you like the caregiver, he or she might warm up, too.

“Do it for me.”

Your parents have always wanted what is best for you, and what’s best for you now is the peace of mind that Mom and Dad are safe and cared for.

Tell your parents how bringing in a caregiver will help you to get your work done and to sleep at night.

You might also point out that with someone else around to grocery shop and clean up around the house, there’s more time left for you to just be a daughter. Remind them that with the laundry done, you are free to take the to a movie on the weekend or to sit down for a long game of cards.