How do you start the conversation with your elderly parents about getting some help or whether they should move out of their home and into a retirement community or a Long-Term Care Facility? It’s not an easy conversation to have — but going about it the right way can help them live more safely and get more out of life.
Start with these tips when you need to talk to an aging parent about senior living, senior care, and the way forward for your family.
Preparing for the Conversation
Do your homework before you initiate the conversation about senior care and prepare yourself by creating a list of concerns and benefits of making this life changing transition.
Create a list of your concerns for your aging parent. Are you worried, for example, that their home is no longer a safe environment for them? Are they having some health problems? Are they starting to have trouble with activities of daily living, such as dressing, grooming, bathing or managing their medications? You may want to discuss your concerns with other family members to get their perspective as well. Write down all your observations so that you can share them with your senior living professional/advisors who will use this information to guide you towards the right senior living solution that fits your wants and needs. There is a wide range of types of senior living communities/facilities
Educate yourself. As you learn more about retirement communities
and senior care options such as assisted living, you’ll have a better understanding of what will fit your aging parent best. Admitting just how much help your loved one needs isn’t easy, and you may find yourself downplaying just how serious their need for help really is. But be as objective as you can. You and your parents may have concerns about and health issues such as outbreaks of flu or COVID-19. Most community websites have information about their safety protocols, and you can always call and ask.
Exploring the options and learning more about successful aging can give you the confidence and credibility you need to begin this conversation. But exploring and learning doesn’t mean you’re making decisions about moving your elderly parents out of their home without the consent of your parent or aging family member. Instead, you’re preparing yourself to be as helpful as possible for the conversation and decisions ahead.
Tips for Having a Better and More Productive Conversation About Senior Care
Once you have educated yourself and feel that you can confidently explain the options, following these tips can help you have a more easy-going productive conversation:
Have the conversation as early as possible.
Rather than waiting for a health crisis to force the issue, tackling this difficult decision early can help all of you reach an educated decision easier so you can start planning with so much less pressure and uncertainty.
Talk in person, if possible.
If you can be together to have a face-to-face conversation that is great. But if not, set up a video call so you can at least see each other during the discussion. Try to arrange a time when you and your parent/parents are well rested and relaxed. Block out a time and a location where you can talk without interruption.
Listen, listen, listen.
Your loved one may have anxieties, concerns and objections about moving from their home and into a retirement community. Don’t minimize those feelings. It’s important to acknowledge them and continue to ask questions so you can better understand their reservations. This will make it clear that you will respect their wishes.
Empathy, not sympathy.
No older adult wants their adult child to feel sorry for them. But empathy is another matter. Your kind, calm voice and demeanor will show you care — and that you’re trying to understand the fears and frustrations they may feel. The idea of accepting in-home care or moving to assisted living is tough. You begin to help as soon as you really begin to listen.
Once you’re armed with knowledge, you may feel ready to make a decision. But your parents may need more time. Allow them the time they need to find the words to express how they’re feeling. Coming to an unpressured mutual agreement now will continue to pay dividends as you move forward together.
Plan to talk again.
And again. As much as you might want to wrap things up in one conversation, the reality is this will likely be a series of talks unless your aging family member is in imminent danger, it’s a process, not a once-and-done discussion.
Contact a Free Senior Living Advisor to help guide you.
A good senior living advisors knows the communities in the area of your search and has established relationships within the senior living. You will save valuable time and resources when working with reputable senior living referral company. They will help you select a community that can meet all of your wants needs and desires at a cost that is in line with your budget. They will schedule your community visits/tours that fit within your family schedule and will be by your side to advocate for you. Whether it's an in-person tour or by virtual, one of the best ways to alleviate most of the worries about making this transition is to show your loved ones what a community is actually like. Visit during mealtimes so you can taste the cuisine and see how the community residents interact and if you can see them as a neighbor. This will give you an idea of what type of lifestyle, amenities, culture and type of neighbors that you are likely to have.
Remember, it’s their decision.
Unless your elderly parents are mentally incapacitated, they get to decide whether to move out of their home and into a care facility of some kind. You have the responsibility of raising your concerns, out of love for them, but the ultimate decision belongs to them.
Starting The Conversation
As with many difficult topics, beginning the discussion is often the hardest part. These conversation starters may help.
How is it living at home alone? Do you still feel safe? (You may want to mention specific safety concerns such as managing medications, falling on stairs, struggles in the bathtub or kitchen. Crime may be another fear they haven’t shared with you.)
Do you have a plan for long-term care? For example, if you fell or got sick and couldn’t take care of yourself at home, where would you go? How would you pay for it?
Do you feel lonely sometimes? Would you like to spend more time with people your own age?
How do you feel about driving? Would you be interested in other options for transportation, so you don’t have to worry about getting where you need to go, car maintenance costs, traffic, parking, etc.?
Is it ever hard to manage your finances and keep up with paying your bills?
Ever wonder about getting a helping hand with housekeeping and laundry?
Would you feel less stress if you didn’t have to worry about the house?
Open-ended questions are the best way to encourage them to talk. Sit back and really listen to their answers.
Lastly Avoid Information Overload
Finally, beware the flood. Sharing a little basic information upfront can be helpful but overloading the conversation with research and statistics is overwhelming. What’s worse, when people feel overwhelmed, they can get defensive. And defensiveness will end a conversation fast — and make it hard to resume later. Take your time and make this a journey of discovery and growth.