How to talk to elderly parents about companion care

You might find it difficult to discuss with an elderly relative the idea of getting help. Here we offer some tips on how to approach this conversation.

We sometimes find that elderly people are wary about starting with a companion. It can be hard for anyone to accept that they need help, especially later in life. On top of this, a companion is essentially a stranger coming into their house. Both of these can cause worry and reluctance to receive help.

Of course, it is not only the older person who might have concerns. Families also can also feel uncertain about ‘handing over’ their precious loved one to someone they don’t know.

Thankfully, virtually all of our clients in Edinburgh say they wish they’d done it sooner!

Seven tips for talking to an elderly person about Viva Independent Living

  1. Pick a good moment to start the discussion
    It might come as a surprise to an elderly relative that you think they are in need of some assistance. For this reason it is essential to be tactful and choose an appropriate moment to first mention paid companionship.
  2. Be patient and respectful
    As people age, they can become defensive about their capabilities. Don’t get drawn into arguments, and always be respectful of the elderly person’s views and wishes.
  3. Talk in terms of Questions, rather than Solutions
    Sometimes it can be useful to ‘wonder out loud’. This can soften the impact of discussing someone’s diminishing abilities. Your elderly relative will probably want to still feel in control of their life, so posing open-ended questions can be better than telling them what you have decided is best for them.
    For example, “I wonder if it would help to have a friend take you to your doctor’s appointment?”, might come across better than, “You’re unable to get to the doctors on your own now”.
  4. Stick to the positives
    Highlight the benefits of having a Viva companion. For example:
    – Your elderly relative will maintain their independence, and ability to live in their own home, for longer
    – Your relationship will improve. You can go back to just visiting, rather than always having to deal with ‘stuff’ when you see your relative
    – Your relative will regain their freedom, by being able to get out and about more often
    – They will feel less isolated. What’s more, they’ll have news and stories to tell the family when you visit.
    – They’ll will once again have plans to talk about, and things to look forward to
  5. We are not “carers”
    (This dreaded c-word has many negative connotations!) Our companions don’t provide personal care, or any form of ‘institutionalised’ care. The opposite is true in fact. We are here to help older people maintain their independence. ie Your older relative can live in their own home for longer, and not be reliant on family members for everything
  6. You will always have flexibility
    At Viva, we don’t make you sign a contract. There is no set minimum time limit each month. We know that things change, so we will always tailor our service to the user.
  7. You don’t even have to mention that we are ‘paid’ companions!
    Many people don’t like the idea of paying for help. This isn’t a problem – we can be as discreet as you like.
    For example, some of our clients think Viva don’t get paid at all. Why not try, “I have a friend who can help you (get to your appointment / go to your club etc)“. We don’t mind what you call us – whatever works for you!

We can discuss your relative’s needs, and payment, over the phone before our first meeting with them. So nothing has to be mentioned in front of the client. Your initial phone consultation is absolutely free.

Please get in touch if you are still not sure how to start the conversation

Our team are very experienced when it comes to getting the best outcomes for elderly people. We’ve done this many times and are always willing to offer help and advice where we can.

Please give us a call, or drop us an email if you are unsure how to approach the topic of independent living. You can call Viv, our founder on  07885 602972, email, or use our contact form.