Do you have concerns about a loved living at home alone? Are you worried that the stress of running a household is causing health problems for your loved one? If so, talking about senior living options may help allay your fears and allow your senior family member to verbalize their concerns as well.
We know that many families meet with resistance from their senior loved one when talking about assisted living or searching for quality senior care. Your loved one may want to avoid the subject altogether or may paint a rosier picture of their situation than is realistic.
For adult children or caregivers, the conversation may be difficult to begin, but it’s an important first step in the journey. The subject will be easier to discuss later when the need arises if you’ve already started the conversation.
Here are some tips for how to have a healthy discussion about senior living:
Start the conversation early
Don’t wait until a health crisis forces your hand; it’s much easier to make decisions about senior care when you and your loved one don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision. It’s much less stressful to talk about senior living in terms of “future planning” than in terms of deciding now.
Remember that this is simply a first step, and you don’t have to have all the answers after your first conversation. Knowing what options are available and understanding the relative merits of those options is a great start.
Understand that talking about senior care may be difficult for your loved one, especially if they’ve been living independently and are only recently experiencing difficulties. They may feel that the situation will correct itself in time and want to save the conversation for later, or they may feel that you are overreacting to the issues they face.
Put yourself in their shoes when starting the conversation about senior care and tread lightly in your first attempts to broach the subject. The discussion should be framed as a partnership with you and your loved one about options and alternatives to their current situation.
Find the right time and place
Timing is important. Find a time when you can be uninterrupted, as well as a location that feels neutral and safe for the conversation. Talking about senior living is much more appropriate and comfortable at the kitchen table than in a crowded restaurant or in the middle of a family event.
A one-on-one conversation is often more effective than a group effort at the outset, since your loved one may feel overwhelmed or that they are being outnumbered if everyone joins the initial conversation.
Do your homework
Preparing a little in advance is always helpful. Write down your specific concerns so that you have talking points when you have the conversation. They may actually share your concerns and have ideas of what they need and want, which is a vital consideration when discussing senior care.
Presenting options during your conversation shows that you’ve given the subject some thought and want to help your loved one make a choice they are comfortable with.
At Senior Lifestyle, we have advisors who are available to assist you in identifying the best lifestyle choice for your senior family member based on their care needs, finances and location, so don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help at this step in the process.
While you don’t want your senior loved one to feel outnumbered or pressured, it is a good idea to discuss your plans with any other family members involved in the decision-making process.
Oftentimes, seniors find it difficult to make changes for their own good if they feel that it shows weakness or lessens their sense of independence. However, faced with the very real stress and worry their current situation places on adult children or caregivers, they are willing to explore other options for care.
Independence is a wonderful and admirable quality and should be encouraged, but it should not come at the risk of the senior’s health or safety.
Your loved one may be resistant to the idea of assisted living due to a mindset that equates this lifestyle with the words “nursing home.” It’s vital to dispel that myth and provide examples of senior living options that fit their lifestyle and needs.
Additionally, your loved one may feel that moving to a senior community will limit their opportunity to spend time with family or friends, so it’s important to reassure them that you’ll still have quality time together. Many families find that visits become even more meaningful and enjoyable when the stresses and responsibilities of living at home are removed and family members can focus less on caregiving and more on sharing moments that matter.
Ask the experts
At Senior Lifestyle, we’ve been helping seniors and their families navigate the senior care journey for over 30 years. We understand the uncertainty, questions and obstacles that accompany many families on their journey, and we strive to provide exceptional guidance and support.
While it can be difficult to discuss life changes with a senior loved one, we know that the conversation doesn’t have to be a source of strife or an unwelcome burden. With some advance preparation, support from friends and family, and a genuine desire to allay the fears your loved one may have about making a move to senior care, talking about senior living can be a positive step toward a better quality of life.
For more information about senior care options in your area or to schedule a tour of one of our senior communities, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.