How to Talk to Your Parent About Senior Living
July 5, 2016
Talking with a parent about senior living isn’t easy. In fact, many people often avoid having that conversation until a medical emergency occurs and they are forced to make a hasty decision. In order to guarantee that your parent is making the best possible decision for their future health and wellbeing, it’s best to be prepared and go into it with a plan.
Starting the Conversation
The outcome of a conversation is rarely positive when the other person is caught off guard. This is especially true when it comes to talking with a parent about senior living. In order to warm them up to the idea of senior living, it’s best to start the conversation early and lay the groundwork for an eventual move.
Some tips for opening up the lines of communication with your loved one include:
- Soften your language. Try not to use phrases like, “you have to,” or “you need to.” Instead, express your concern by telling them that you are worried about them because you love them or that you have concerns about their health and safety. It will help them to be a part of the process rather than feel like they are being forced into something they don’t want.
- Find ways to bring up senior living indirectly. You can share stories with your parent about friends who recently moved their parents into a senior living community and are thriving. You can also print out articles for them to read about how much senior living has changed over the past few decades. Educating them about the realities of senior living might help to dissolve the stigma senior living had when they were younger.
- Share your own emotions about watching them age. Telling a parent that it’s been hard for you to see them struggle with age-related health issues is also a great way of starting to talk to your parent about senior living. It will help them to understand that the issue is not just about them, it affects the rest of the family as well.
Of course, just because you are ready to begin the conversation about senior living with a parent, does not mean that they are ready to hear it. It’s not uncommon for people to get stubborn and defensive when it comes to decisions about their future. Even though their health may deteriorate with age, they still want to feel as though they are in control of their lives.
Here are some ways to better navigate resistance to talking about senior living with a parent:
- Respect their feelings. If they begin to get angry or agitated every time you start to broach the subject, it might be more helpful to back off than to keep pushing the issue.
- Bring in backup. Inviting additional family members or close friends to join the conversation can help ease any tension that has arisen between you and your parent.
- Encourage them to take a tour. And then promise that if they still really, really hate the idea of a senior living community, you will drop it. You can even schedule a tour with a Five Star community near you today!
Dealing with Guilt
Once they have agreed to move into a senior-friendly residence, caregiver guilt can creep up on you. But don’t let it overwhelm you; while you may feel as though you should have done more to help your loved one, the reality is that all the hard work and research you put into finding them the right place to live will pay off in the end.
Once you see how your parent is thriving in a community environment, participating in activities like group fitness classes or taking up new hobbies like art classes, language courses and bird watching you will feel much better!
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