CarersBauer Xceladvice, help

How to talk to a relative about care options

CarersBauer Xceladvice, help
How to talk to a relative about care options

The sooner you talk about it, the sooner you can identify the problems and help your relative to do something about them

Reasons that you might need to talk to a relative or friend:

  • They seem to be struggling with everyday tasks and may need care or support services.
  • You have noticed that they are finding it increasingly difficult to get around.
  • You have concerns about their memory.
  • You think they might need to consider moving into a care home or sheltered housing.
  • You are unsure of their finances and want to know if they are experiencing any difficulties with housing, care or living costs. You might think there are some benefits and allowances available that your relative doesn't know about.
  • You have concerns over their ability to drive safely.

Choose the right time

Pick sensible time to broach the topic of care. It’s probably best not to bring up a difficult subject late at night when people are tired. Choose a time when you’ll be able to talk about the issues without feeling rushed – for example, don’t start a difficult conversation just before a guest is due to arrive, or five minutes before you have to leave for work. Give them ample time to express their views and discuss options.

Choose the right place

Choose somewhere quiet and private where you are unlikely to be interrupted. If it is likely to be an emotional or difficult conversation, try to have it at home, where your relative feels comfortable, rather than in a public place. 

Who should be there?

If there is a particular person that your relative is close to, and is more likely to listen to, ask if they can come along with you. Chat to this person beforehand so that you both understand the issues and what you are trying to achieve. Don’t involve too many people or your relative might feel that you are ganging up on them.

Plan in advance

Think about what you are going to say so that your message is clear. If there are particular things worrying you, or specific issues that you need to discuss, jot down a list of key points beforehand.

Be informed

It can help to do some research into the facts beforehand. Check out any relevant areas of our website – for example on  sheltered housing, care homes or benefits and allowances so that you can explain options and answer questions if asked. You might want to take along leaflets, printouts or a laptop so that you can look at information together.

Opening lines

Make it clear from the beginning that this is a two-way discussion with your relative’s best interests at heart. Your aim is to identify any concerns that they have, or any problems that they are experiencing, so that you can decide, together, how best to tackle them.

For example, you might say:
“You know that I love you/care about you and want the best for you.”
“Is there anything that is worrying you or that you are having difficulty with?”
“I would like to talk about xxxxxxx so that we can work out if there’s anything we can do to make your life easier/more comfortable.”


  • This advice comes from Which? For more tips on helping a relative or elderly friend find the appropriate level of care, click here
  • For more care advice, pick up the latest issue of Yours