How To Talk to a Loved One About Senior Living Communities
As adults get older it’s natural for them to need help doing things they were able to do when they were younger.Some need more help than others and the age at which their needs change may vary greatly. Each person, along with the people who love them, must find the right solution for their personal and potential future medical needs.
Many adult children will find themselves in the position of having to discuss the possibilities of senior living options with their aging parents and often will be initiating the conversation. They can be difficult, emotional discussions, but they are necessary. Below you will find some tips to help with these conversations.
When is the right time to start the conversation?
Talking with your loved ones about their current and long-term living situations can begin at any time. However, having the conversation before a need arises will help ensure that an informed decision can be made without having to scramble during a time of crisis. No one wants to decide where or when to move based on an immediate need. Also, what may be available may not work with the family’s location or needs. Having a plan in place is the best and least stressful way for everyone.
Some seniors can live in their home safely for a long time, maybe even their entire lives. You may be asking yourself how will you know if your loved ones should consider moving? Below are some signs that it may be time to consider a move to a retirement community in earnest.
· Safety concerns such as increased risk of falling or tripping on stairs or experiencing any other type of household accidents.
· Increasing medical needs such as frequent visits to physicians and specialists or ongoing therapies.
· Noticing your loved one is forgetting to take medications, skipping meals, or if you see a decline in personal hygiene or changes in other daily routines.
· Your loved one may be suffering from isolation from friends and family. This may be brought on by a decline in driving skills. They may also be having trouble keeping up with dates for attending social activities such as worship services, book or card clubs, or other activities they may have attended in the past. They “forgot”.
How do I start a difficult conversation?
The earlier you begin the conversation with your loved one, the better chance that it will go smoothly. Make sure everyone concerned with the decision making is involved.This includes your siblings and their spouses, adult grandchildren, or anyone else whose opinion your loved one values. Once the family and loved ones are on the same page you may want to loop in their financial planner or advisor to make sure they are looking at communities within their means. Start by asking your loved one’s questions such as:
· How comfortable are they in their current living situation?
· Where would they prefer to live?
· What are their concerns about moving to a senior living community?
· How can you and the rest of the family help with any struggles or concerns they are having?
A conversation like this can bring about all types of emotions including negative ones such as anger, depression and defensiveness. They may have misconceptions regarding what moving to a retirement community is like. By listening to your loved ones and validating their concerns, you will let them know they still have a voice and an opinion when it comes to moving. Assure them that they have a voice and that all decisions will be made together.
Self-care is extremely important during this time.
Make sure you are addressing your needs too. Acknowledging that your loved ones are aging and their needs are changing may bring up challenging emotions for you as well.
Marylin A. Mendoza, Ph.D., writes in a Psychology Today article about the pain and guilt that some adults experience when arranging care for their parents or senior relatives. She says these feelings are normal, and suggests that you:
· Acknowledge and accept how you feel.
· Recognize that you are only human and not some superhero.
· Be careful what you promise your loved one.
· Take the time to nourish and replenish yourself.
· Write down your thoughts and feelings.
· Talk to friends, family or other caregivers.
Making sure you are in a better place psychologically andemotionally will allow you to be in a better position to help your loved ones.