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How do I talk about home health?

February 26, 2018

One question we often hear is "How do I talk to someone I love about home health?" It can be a difficult, as people often see home health in the same categories as assisted living or nursing home care. Though some of the services provided may be similar, home health is much different.


The goal of home health is to help you regain your independence in your own home. We do not consider, nor should it be considered, a permanent fixture in your life. Home health is a way to help people recover and get back on their feet, so to speak.


Many times, the people we need to discuss home health with object to the idea--and for good reason. On its surface, the idea of someone coming into your home to care for you can seem scary or make one feel like they are seen as unable to care for themselves.


It is important to note that this is actually the opposite of the goal of home health. As a home health agency, we want to help you get better and thrive without us!


(Not sure if someone needs home health? Find out how to know if an aging relative needs help.)


Below, we've provided some tips on how to talk about home health with someone that may need it. If you have any others that have worked for you, be sure to leave them in the comments!


Start the conversation early


It is important to start trying to have the conversation as soon as you see signs that it may be needed. This is especially true in cases of Alzheimer's or Parkinson's diagnosis.


Finding out your loved one's concerns and questions about the subject are very important. Ask open ended questions to help facilitate the process and try to avoid sounding like a parent or authority figure.


Be understanding when talking about home health


A disease diagnosis or medical incident can be very scary. Be empathetic to those emotions when you begin the conversation.

Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if you needed additional care? How would you feel if you were facing the diagnosis?


It is also important to realize that resistance to the idea of home health may just be fear of loss of control. Reassure your person that it is not about control, but about helping them gain independence.


Be honest about the situation


This is probably the toughest part about having the home health discussions. You need to be honest about your concerns, but it must be in a way that focuses on the issues and not the person. To simplify, express concern not accusation.


Try phrasings like "I'm worried about you" instead of "You can't take care of yourself." Another example might be "I want you to be safe" instead of "You're going to hurt yourself."


Focus on the behavior and not the person while providing examples such as mixed up medications or recent falls (Need help on fall proofing a home? Try this article).


Be respectful during the discussion


Everyone wants to feel respected. Make sure to have the conversation in a way that does not demean them or make them fell helpless. Try to suggest the idea without seeming pushy.


Many seniors don't want to admit they can't do everything for themselves. But remember that in the end, the decision is up to them.


Ask for help if you need it


It might be helpful to have your loved one talk to another senior that is currently or has recently had home health. A positive peer opinion will help them feel like the decision is okay.


You could also take your loved one to visit with their primary care doctor for an unbiased, medical opinion on whether home health is right for them. Keep in mind that home health must be started with their referral.


Have more home health questions? Check out our FAQ page.


Sunshine Home Care is an Altus, OK home health agency that serves most of Western Oklahoma. For more information on our agency, contact us or call 1-877-477-2014.


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