How NOT to Approach the Topic of Home Care for Seniors

Maybe mom or dad used to be completely independent, but you’ve noticed them having a little more trouble at home lately. It started with the lawn going unmowed from time to time. Then bills began to pile up, along with dirty dishes and laundry. Now your aging parent forgets to take their medications or follow up on doctor appointments.
You know something needs to be done, and fast — or their health and safety could be at risk. You worry that a bad fall or medical crisis is just around the corner. But you want to broach the subject of home care for seniors in a delicate, tactful way. With that in mind, see which phrases to steer clear of!

“At least it’s not a nursing home.”

When older adults hear the phrase “nursing home,” many of them start to panic. This is because the majority of people prefer to spend their golden years at home. They may see accepting a home health aide – even for a few hours a week – as the next step towards an eventual move to facility living. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, receiving help at home can often prevent long-term care placement. Be sure to make them aware of this important fact!

“You’re being selfish!”

Often, when an older parent can’t function as well as they used to, they rely on family members to fill the gaps in care. They may not come right out and ask for help, yet they depend on you more and more. Maybe they say they don’t “feel like cooking,” every once in a while; before you know it, you’re preparing every meal – and cleaning up after it too. Or they ask you to arrange their prescriptions when you visit, and after time goes by, you’re in charge of coordinating every aspect of their medical care.
In moments of frustration, it’s possible to lash out at your loved one, calling them “selfish” for expecting so much. But the situation may not be what it seems. It’s possible they don’t know how much this is interfering with your life. The stress and strain on today’s caregivers is enormous[1. “What are the statistics of caregiver stress?” June 13, 2013,] and can even affect your own health.
But what if they do realize that caregiving is hard on you, but still refuse outside help? In that case, it is perfectly acceptable to say gently (but firmly), that you cannot continue. Offer to look into other options with them, but let your loved one know things will be changing so that your own well-being doesn’t’ suffer.

“You have to do this” (i.e., get home care)

Never tell an adult with a sound mind that they have to do anything. The whole “because I said so” tactic may work with toddlers, but your mom or dad are well beyond that age. It’s entirely possible they won’t be receptive to the idea of home care at all, and that is their right. However, you also know that things can’t continue as they are. Instead, say something like, “What about a trial period?” Let them know that they can cancel the service any time. If they still decline, tell them you hope they’re open to revisiting the subject at some point.

Home care for seniors is a tough subject at any age

No matter how old we are, we tend to value our independence highly.[2. “Losing Independence,” July 5, 2010,] Ever since we learned how to do things for ourselves – walk, drive a car, take care of our house – we are loath to admit we need help. That’s part of why talking about home care for seniors is so difficult – both for them and for you. But by approaching the topic with understanding and sensitivity, you can have a discussion with a positive outcome for everyone.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.

Institute on Aging

Institute on Aging

Related Posts


Give our dedicated Client Service Specialists a call. We are ready to help.

Follow Us

Three and a half years ago, Maggie Fang started her journey as an Assessment Specialist in the Support at Home Program at IOA. Her excellent people skills enabled her to manage a caseload of older adults and individuals with disabilities, helping them receive homecare to age in place. Maggie was selected to pioneer the Temporary Respite Caregiver Support program, and we are delighted to have such a skilled and dedicated individual leading our newest program at IOA. Thank you, Maggie, for your exceptional work! 

#SocialWorkMonth #WeAppreciateyou #ThankYou #SupportatHome #CaseManager #SocialWorkerAppreciation
Join us at the Adult Day Program at the Enrichment Center as Caregiver Coach Alex shares with us the incredible support and care provided to participants living with dementia. Clients enjoy various engaging activities, from music therapy to art classes, designed to stimulate their cognitive and physical abilities. The skilled staff at the Enrichment Center also provides caregivers with much-needed support and respite, allowing them to take a break and attend to their needs. If you or someone you know is looking for support in caring for a loved one with dementia, the Adult Day Program at the Enrichment Center in the Presidio is an excellent resource for you! 

Learn more by visiting the link in our bio! 

#DementiaCare #EnrichmentCenter #AdultDayProgram #CaregiverSupport #Presidio #Dementia #Memory #Caregiver
At Insitute on Aging, we are committed to attracting and retaining top talent, and we are incredibly fortunate to have Manuel Martinez on our team. With his extensive expertise in housing and community resources, Manuel has been an invaluable asset to our organization. Recently, he was promoted to the role of Assessment Specialist II in our Adults with Disabilities - Home Delivered Meals program. In addition to managing a caseload, Manuel has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and has become an expert in program management. We are grateful for Manuel's unwavering commitment to IOA and the community we serve. Thank you, Manuel, for your dedication and passion in making a difference in the lives of others. 
#SocialWorkMonth #IOATeam #TopTalent #CommunitySupport #HomeDeliveredMeals #SupportingAdultsWithDisabilities
In honor of #SocialWorkMonth, we're shining a spotlight on one of our exceptional social workers - Patty Myers! 

Patty has dedicated her career and volunteer efforts to support older adults and adults with disabilities in San Francisco. As the Resident Services Coordinator for Institute on Aging's Support in Independent Living program, Patty wears many hats to ensure that the 120+ residents of Martin Luther Towers Senior Housing can age in place comfortably. Her talent for connecting individuals with resources has enabled her to go above and beyond to ensure accessibility and inclusivity for all. Patty's commitment to her work has been unwavering, and we are grateful to have her on our team at IOA. 

#SeniorCare #SocialWork #SupportingTheElderly #SocialWorker #SocialWork #NationalSocialWorkerMonth #Services #Coordinator #Joinourteam