Having Conversations About Senior Living: Top Tips for Families
The first time you notice a change in your parents or older loved ones it can be hard to accept, to say the least. At first, you may not think that it’s serious enough to worry about. But as you watch and help care for them, eventually you begin to realize that you need to have a conversation about transitioning to a senior living community.
This conversation is one that many people with elderly relatives dread. And it can be hard for that person, too. They may not have had time yet to accept their changing needs, or they may feel frightened about what the future holds.
Thankfully, you’re not alone. At CarePatrol, we’ve helped thousands of families navigate this change with an eye on the positives. Here are our top recommendations for starting a meaningful discussion about senior care with a loved one.
Prepare for the Conversation
You’re already here, reading up on resources, so that’s a great first step. Being prepared for the potentially difficult conversation ahead can help make it less stressful and frustrating for everyone. Think about why you want to have this conversation in the first place. After all, you wouldn’t be thinking about it without a good reason.
We recommend starting with a list of concerns and observations. Have you noticed that your parent is having trouble with activities of daily living like getting dressed? Has your relative recently been in the hospital and sent home with extensive care instructions? Take thorough notes, and consider talking with other family members to get their perspectives.
Choose a Good Conversation Starter
Oftentimes, the hardest part of the senior care conversation is simply starting it. There are many ways to open the door to discussion, and the most fruitful ones share a few characteristics. Start with open-ended questions that encourage more than a yes-or-no answer, and focus on your loved one. Make it about their needs and comfort!
Some examples of conversation starters include:
- How are you feeling about living at home by yourself?
- How has your social life been lately? Would it be nice to be part of a larger community?
- Has it been hard to manage your medications? (Or any other aspect of their daily life & wellness that you are concerned about.)
- Do you have a plan or preference for long-term care if you need it?
- Would things be less stressful if you didn’t have to worry about driving to the store / taking care of the house / another concern?
Talk Early, and Talk Often
Families don’t always have the opportunity to have this conversation ahead of time. Sometimes, decisions have to be made quickly after a crisis, like an injury, illness, or hospitalization. So if you can, start talking as soon as possible. The earlier you can come to an understanding of your loved one’s needs, preferences, and desires, the easier it will be to make a decision that everyone is happy with.
Don’t feel like you have to get everything settled in one conversation. Leave room to plant the seed and get them thinking. The less pressure you put on your loved one, the more receptive they are likely to be to the idea of transitioning to senior living.
Be a Great Listener
Remember, your loved one is likely dealing with some intense emotions during this time, just like you. It’s important to hear out their frustrations, objections, and fears about this life change. Let them know you respect their feelings. Ultimately, the decision is theirs. But if you can show them that you understand their concerns and that you’re coming from a place of love, you can smooth the road to acceptance and agreement.
Focus on the Positives
Most resistance to assisted living or retirement communities stems from a fear of losing independence and safety. Unfortunately, many well-meaning family members who try to get their point across with negatives can feed into these fears. Don’t say things like “You can’t take care of yourself” or “You shouldn’t be driving.” Instead, think about the benefits they can enjoy if they accept help.
Maintain a calm, positive tone throughout the conversation. Keep a list of benefits in mind that you can return to as touch points throughout different chats with your loved one. Having a list of vetted senior housing options to refer them to can help, too!
When emotions are running high, it’s easy to lose patience. But what may seem clear and obvious to you—that your loved one needs help—may not be so simple for them. It can be hard to come to an agreement, but don’t lose hope. If you aren’t in a time-sensitive situation, start with small suggestions to slowly acclimate them to the idea. If your loved one is facing a more pressing health or financial concern, be firm and be persistent.
Plan Senior Living Community Tours Together
It’s important to be as involved as possible throughout this process. Working together, you can choose a senior living option that ticks all the boxes. Seeing a community in person is one of the most important parts of your journey, as it gives your loved one a chance to know whether they can see themselves living there. Once there, they may realize that they had the wrong idea about what senior living can be. They may even start to get excited about this new phase of their life!
Get in Touch with a Senior Care Advisor
From helping families understand the level of care their loved one needs to providing support on move-in day, CarePatrol’s senior care advisors are here to be your greatest resource. We know that doing your homework about all the different senior living options can be overwhelming. That’s why we personally curate a list of recommended communities, help you schedule tours, and accompany you on them, to help you find the perfect fit. Best of all, we do it at no cost to you.
If your loved one needs care and you’re not sure where to start, find your local CarePatrol advisor day!
CarePatrol: Your Trusted Guide for Senior Care Solutions
With over 150 care advisors and 20,000 pre-screened communities nationwide, CarePatrol is your source for guidance in this time of transition. Our advisors are compassionate and comprehensive in their research, providing you with full care details of each community, transition support, and continuing care support after move-in day. Let us help you find the perfect community today.