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How to start the conversation with a loved one about moving into aged care

Speaking with a loved one about moving into an aged care home can be challenging. It is a delicate matter that involves a range of emotions, concerns, and uncertainties. However, approaching this discussion with empathy, understanding, and information can pave the way for a smoother transition.

In this article, we'll explore some key considerations to help you start this important conversation with your loved one.

1. Understand their perspective

Before raising the subject, take the time to empathise with your loved one’s feelings and concerns. Recognise that moving into an aged care home is a significant life change and that their emotions are valid. Consider their independence, lifestyle, and any fears they may have about the transition.

Being sensitive to their perspective sets the stage for more open and constructive dialogue and may allow you to better understand what would be important to them in an aged care home, when it comes time to choose one.

2. Choose the right time and setting

Timing is crucial when having this kind of conversation. Choose a quiet and comfortable setting where you can talk without interruptions. Ensure you have plenty of time for a thorough discussion, allowing your loved one the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings without feeling rushed, judged or dismissed.

3. Share your perspective

Begin by expressing your love and concern. Use "I" statements, such as "I've noticed..." or "I am concerned about...", to avoid sounding like the need for change is a fault of theirs. Be honest about the changes you've observed and how their wellbeing could be better supported with professional help. Make it clear that your primary goal is to ensure they receive the best possible care tailored to their needs.

4. Use active listening

Encourage your loved one to share their thoughts and feelings. Listen actively, without interrupting or passing judgment. Acknowledge their concerns and validate their emotions. This creates a space for mutual understanding and fosters a collaborative decision-making process.

Understanding their concerns can help you in your search for an aged care home.

5. Work together to find a solution

If time allows and your loved one is willing and able to have an open discussion with you, approach the discussion in a way that involves you working with your loved one towards finding a solution to the current situation, where your loved one may be finding it harder to care for themselves independently.

This may mean that moving into an aged care home is not the immediate solution, but as the possibility of residential care is brought up among other options, it allows your loved one to consider it with more time and space to become comfortable with the idea.

6. Educate yourself

Even if a move into residential aged care is not expected in the immediate future, it is useful to research potential aged care homes, their amenities, and the level of care they provide. Highlight the positive aspects, such as any local features including gardens, gyms, and cafés, tailored care plans, social activities, and a supportive community, to help ease their anxiety.

This knowledge will allow you to understand which aged care homes are preferable in terms of location and budget, and you will be able to address specific questions and concerns your loved one may have. It is at this point that independent financial advice may be valuable to understand your loved one’s financial position in terms of paying for their care and accommodation.

7. Highlight the benefits

Outline the potential benefits of living in an aged care home. The availability of health care services, companionship, regular meals, and engaging activities can enhance their quality of life. Discuss how the move can relieve them of certain responsibilities, allowing them to focus on enjoying their time and pursuing activities they love.

8. Involve them in the decision-making process

Once it is time for your loved one to move into an aged care home, involve them in the decision-making process as much as you can. Discuss their preferences and priorities about the type of care, location, and services available. Show them brochures or websites of potential aged care homes, allowing them to have a say in the selection process. This can help your loved one feel a sense of control in the process, and possibly make them feel more accepting about this new chapter of their lives.

9. Address their concerns

Be prepared to address specific concerns your loved one may have, whether related to losing independence, adapting to a new environment, or paying for their care. Answer clearly and honestly, and if necessary, involve professionals, such as financial advisors or your loved one’s health care providers, to offer specialist advice on specific matters.

10. Visit someone in an aged care home

If this option is available to you, visiting someone, preferably a friend or family member of your loved one, who lives in an aged care home and is thriving since the move may be a valuable experience. This can help your loved one to see some of the positive possibilities about life in residential aged care.

Starting the conversation about moving into an aged care home can be difficult, but it is an essential step in ensuring the wellbeing of your loved one. Approach the discussion with empathy, understanding, and a commitment to finding the best possible solution. By fostering open communication and involving them in the decision-making process, you can help make this transition smoother and more positive for everyone involved.

Eldercare delivers high-quality aged care at 13 aged care homes across Adelaide and the Yorke Peninsula. If and when it comes time for your loved one to receive 24/7 care in an aged care home, our experienced admissions team can help. Contact the team on 1300 925 414 during business hours or email

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