Q: How do I have a conversation about home care with my aging loved one?

A: Finding the “right” time to discuss care options for the elderly loved ones in your life can be a challenge, and specific circumstances often play into determining when to have the conversation. To start, it is best to ensure that your loved one feels part of and has input into the journey of exploring home-care options.

Home-care services range from assistance with everyday activities, such as preparing meals, bathing and housekeeping, to medically driven support, including disease management, and palliative or hospice care. Your family can build an individualized home-care plan to address the needs of your loved one. Before doing so, consider the following factors to determine the right path for your loved one and your family.

Emphasize your love and support. Before you start the discussion, reflect upon the reasons you are taking this important step in ensuring the person’s well-being. Show your family member that you love them and want what is best for them. Remind them that arranging for additional support at home will not change your role as a family member.

Listen and understand the need for additional care. After you have identified a need for support, conduct initial research into care services to begin outlining what options are available. When talking with your family member, listen for areas in which they need extra support. Home care can be tailored to their situation.

Highlight that home care helps continued independence. It is important to understand that your aging loved one may resist the notion of home-care services, as they may be afraid this could lead to a loss of independence. Acknowledge their anxiety or fear and emphasize that home-care services will allow them further to age in place.

Identify abnormal patterns in behavior. When interacting with your loved one, be sure to identify any patterns of behavior that seem abnormal or out-of-place. Simple everyday routines might be overlooked — such as eating regularly, disposing of expired goods, or getting their daily exercise. If you are visiting with this family member in person, take note of their home environment. Do things seem clean or are they unkempt? Indicators can differ based on the situation, but missing steps in a daily routine — such as not taking the trash out or not collecting mail — can demonstrate a need for some additional support.

Rather than waiting for a perfect moment to start this conversation, start the journey today. Gathering information about the available home-care options will position your family to make the best decision for all involved parties. Securing this support sooner rather than later can lead to a better quality of life for your family.

Patricia O’Brien is the senior vice president and chief clinical officer of home care and hospice at Holy Redeemer Health System.