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Ageing is inevitable and having upfront, open conversations with your adult children about getting older and your changing needs will help avoid family tensions later on. It’s important to ensure everyone is on-board with your wishes.

There are key landmarks in our lives when we need to have ‘the talk’. What should we study? What do we want to do with our lives? Shall we get married? Should we have children now? And so it goes on. But rarely do we have ‘the talk’ about ageing.

Whatever age we are, nobody likes to think about getting older and hearing our parents talk about it can be upsetting. So how about raising this delicate subject with a bright and positive approach? As the Dalai Lama famously said, “Choose to be optimistic. It feels better.” He’s not wrong!

You can start the chat by asking them how they are feeling about their own ageing journey.  Maybe they’re at that over-tired parent stage or discovering that their knees don’t fare as well as they used to after a work-out at the gym. Find something that they can identify with and open up the conversation from there. Share personal experiences, empathise, and then segue into tackling grittier subjects such as health and finances.

Finances always play on the mind, whatever stage of life you’re at. Stay on top of yours and let your children know about essential details. Reassure them that you’re planning, or have already sorted, your financial, health care and living arrangements for the future. Take a deep breath and talk about funeral plans – it’s not easy. However, they’ll really appreciate your honesty and feel like you’ve kept them involved with your wishes.

This is also your golden opportunity to lead by example. Demonstrate to younger family members how to age well; resolve to be their inspiration. Keep yourself in the best shape you can. Schedule those health appointments and screenings, learn some new skills by enrolling on a course, and don’t forget to take time for life’s small pleasures. Arrange a holiday, relax with some gardening or take up Yoga or Pilates to give yourself some me-time. Active participation is great for physical and mental wellbeing plus gives you the opportunity to tell the family about your new experiences.

At Stiltz Homelifts, taking care of the future is what we do. “We know that helping you stay in control of your independence will give you peace of mind for years to come,” says Mike Lord, CEO of Stiltz Homelifts, “Our domestic lifts give you freedom to live well and safely in your own home for longer, meaning downsizing to later living properties only really needs to be considered as a last resort..”

Why not start the conversation today? It’s good to talk to Stiltz Homelifts.

Stuart Barrow

Professional’s Perspective
By Stuart Barrow, Occupational Therapist

Family members discussing ageing is always meaningful and can be enhanced by input from healthcare professionals.

People have the right to be involved in discussions and make informed decisions about their care, their health, where they live and whether they wish to have outside involvement. As this is a person’s right, it is also the person’s right to decline support they may not be ready for, or decline therapy or intervention but agree to some aids, advice and adaptations or support.

Occupational Therapists do not work on an all or nothing approach.  Our clients can pick and choose the support they require and we work with our clients to set goals and support them to achieve them. However, there is a caveat. When a person is in crisis or the situation is critical, choices become limited and sometimes in order to return home from hospital, or be able to remain in a person’s own home, adaptations and modification may be required urgently and may serve the purpose intended but not be ideal for the client.

The right modifications early on can prevent the need to go into nursing or residential care or enable a carer to come in and help rather than having to move home.

How do we stop a crisis and ensure care, health and home life is protected?   

Planning ahead is often the answer but not always possible with some sudden changes to a person’s life, for example a cancer diagnosis, loss of a loved one or a serious road traffic accident.

Taking the aforementioned into consideration, if later life or old age is planned for there are ways to make changes that are small that will not have a substantial effect to start with. However, small changes will become part of life and enable safe and independent living through the ageing process.

Look at your home and think about what you may or may not have concerns about at the moment, but would have if you were older and less active? Do you like cooking and want to ensure you can cook well into your old age? Do you already hate the stairs and worry how you will cope later on with them? Would you like to feel safer in the bathroom?

Sharing these concerns earlier with family members or a healthcare professional and planning for a reduction in ability sooner rather than later can mean a small change in technique. Adaptations like a Stiltz Homelift to replace needing the stairs, removing the trip-hazard lip on the shower with a wet room or budgeting for an accessible kitchen can make all the difference in later life.

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