5 tips for starting the conversation about care with an ageing parent.

Thanks to our brand partner, AVEO

I'd been pretty oblivious to the fact that my mum was getting older, in my eyes she was the same mum I’d always known. A protector, provider and in every way, a strong, independent woman. But last year, the reality of having an ageing parent became apparent, and so did the fact that she now had changing needs. 

One morning in mid-October, I heard my mum yell out in pain from her room. She could barely move. Mum wasn’t able to stand or walk, and the distress was obvious. Upon an ambulance trip to the emergency room and extensive tests, it was established that some vertebrae in her back had moved out of position and from this, her nerves were being pinched. To help ease that pain and allow her to have her mobility again, Mum required a complicated and long spinal surgery, with extensive physical rehabilitation which still continues today.

Witnessing this shook me, but also as the only child of a single mother, I realised with my husband that we needed to discuss future care and support plans with Mum sooner rather than later to establish a clear path forward for her needs.

The discussion wasn’t easy, in fact, at times it was extremely tough, but ensuring it was inclusive, transparent, compassionate and always led by my mum’s interests and needs was undoubtedly critical because it was about planning for her future care.

In my experience, this conversation started with questions and an open conversation – to establish what my mum did and didn’t want moving forward. Here’s 5 ways that may help start your own conversation, based on my own experience.

1. What happens if things change?

Things don’t always stay the same – this is possibly one of the hardest truths I’ve had to grapple with over the past year.

Along with it being challenging on the personal front as a daughter, this reality has also meant that regular check-ins and questions about Mum’s health, needs and the future have been essential so we can cater to any change – from purchasing particular mobility aids or us seeking additional support services.


Having these conversations isn’t always easy. For some parents, the subject of ageing can be viewed as exceptionally private, making the process even harder. 

This is why Care to Talk Day, Aveo's take on International New Conversations Day, on 12 July serves as such a timely reminder to open – and revisit – important conversations about the care and support your parents may need in retirement. The discussions that remove taboo and shame, and instead encourage opportunities for transparency and compassion. 

Care to Talk Day encourages open care conversations that get to the heart of how your loved one wants to shape their future decisions. Aveo's free Care to Talk Guide is a useful resource with guidance on different retirement living care and support options to help families find the right fit for their loved one, along with talking points on how to start the conversation about getting a little extra support as a practical starting point.

2. What types of support do you need and would prefer?

For us, we asked Mum what she wanted to happen from her spinal surgery (she already lived with us, so this made things a bit easier) – but also into the future if her mobility decreased, where home care services or assisted living might be her preference.

This is such an important question to have your loved one talk through, because the status of their physical health and wellbeing impacts how their lifestyle needs change, so exploring various options for additional hands-on support is critical.

Navigating what feels like a huge array of options to follow up and decisions to make, there are organisations like Aveo that can help to offer guidance on different care and support options available to help you find the right fit. They're a retirement living provider with over 90 retirement villages across Australia, with accommodation options that mean loved ones can live independently in a community with support around them and services like meals and housekeeping.


If your loved one's preference is to stay in their own home for as long as possible, Aveo can also give you guidance on how to access Government-funded Home Care Packages, for tailored support services to help make their life a little easier. These home care services can include cleaning, home or garden maintenance, transport, meals, exercise and wellness therapies, home modifications and aids to maintain independence. Once funding is received, Aveo can help to facilitate the delivery of these support services as an approved provider.

Speaking from experience, having an organisation like Aveo in your corner to navigate the wide variety of living options and support services available is an absolute life (and time) saver, especially when navigating it for the first time.

3. Who else should we involve in these decisions?

One thing I learned quite quickly was how much of an absolute maze some of the support systems can be. The terminology, the assessments for services, and the process of applying for them are like navigating life on another planet.

This was when I realised that depending on other professionals whose expertise is in this area is absolutely essential. Having a team of trusted people in your corner to help with care and advice means the right treatment or service is provided as soon as possible, and for any changes to come. Sharing the mental load is also a huge benefit.

For my mum, it means ensuring there is a team of health and other professionals at the helm to assist her with transport, cleaning and rehabilitation now, and in the future, health professionals with whom we can discuss any other needs.


For your own personal situation, this question also extends to which important family members to involve, that may have a role to play in the decision-making process alongside your loved one.

4. How you have the conversation is really important.

While questions and conversations are important, so is the setting. Choosing a relaxed environment (like our home was for us), made a tough conversation feel safer and smoother as we were in familiar surroundings, drinking coffee from our own mugs and nibbling on TimTams as we did it.

Ensuring there was enough time to have a long conversation, filling it with compassion and as much patience as possible (not usually my greatest skill) also helped a lot and avoided any heightened emotions.

5. Remind yourself that tough situations can bring people closer.

Being so transparent in talking about the future isn’t always comfortable, but approaching it like being in partnership with your parent or loved one on key decisions and being an advocate for them on their plans can also be incredibly rewarding, which for me was the surprise packet of the process.

Having such open and frank discussions has allowed my mum and I to be really honest about areas of life we hadn’t really discussed before. For me, it really helped to also see her in a different light, as her own person and not just as a parent.

Explore Aveo's retirement villages to find your perfect community. Start a care conversation with someone you care about and talk openly about getting a little extra support in retirement. Hear about what families have to say about their experience with Aveo here.

Feature Image: Supplied.

As a leading retirement living provider with over 90 retirement communities across Australia, Aveo are dedicated to retirement living and the care that comes with it. From assisted living options to suit different lifestyles to guidance on home care services that make life a little easier, Aveo can help you and your loved ones explore your options to find the right fit. And, if things change over time, Aveo is there every step of the way to help residents live independently for as long as possible and enjoy the lifestyle they deserve.