Discussing Senior Living with Your Loved One
Behind closed doors, you talk about and fear “the conversation.” It’s time to gather up your strength, courage, and especially your compassion and have this conversation with your loved one. Of course, the best time to have this conversation is before it is needed. If you wait for a health crisis, it will be harder to avoid making hasty or rushed decisions about senior living and personal care services.
At the outset, it is critical to include all members of the family in any care discussions and decisions. It is important that the family agree that their parents need extra assistance and plan how to move forward. At the same time, if there is a member of the family who is closer or more influential with the parents, it is advisable that they be prepared to help engage in or facilitate the conversation – and it should be a dialogue, a two-sided conversation as opposed to feeling like a one-sided coercion.
Here are some tips to help make the conversation go as well as possible:
- Choose a quiet time when everyone is in a good mood such as during a meal, on the way home from church, or taking a walk. The holidays, when everyone is together, are ideal.
- It is perfectly natural for your parents to feel scared, threatened, or embarrassed, so it is essential that everyone be patient and compassionate. If the conversation gets uncomfortable or at all confrontational, agree to revisit the subject at a later time.
- Ask if they have discussed or considered moving as a means to simplify their life, and discuss the benefits of assisted living services in making daily life more manageable.
- Ask open-ended questions to assess how parents are handling daily activities. For example, “How are you doing in keeping up the house?” “What activities are you no longer able to do that you wish you could still do?” “What things are simply too expensive to continue?” “Do you have a plan to handle an emergency, such as a power outage, fall, or accident?” “What are your daily worries or concerns as you go through your day?”
- Be observant. When you visit, you will be able to tell if they are not keeping up with housecleaning or personal hygiene. The fridge will tell you if they are shopping and eating regular, healthy meals. When you speak on the phone, notice any changes of challenges they may be encountering. Are they forgetting things? Having trouble finding their words? Do they seem depressed? With every visit or chat you are collecting the information you need to inform “the conversation.”
- Make sure your parents know that a senior living community is not just about making sure they are cared for – it’s about your own peace of mind as well. Many elderly people worry about their children even as they try to ignore their own need for senior care.
To get more advice on how to talk to your parents, or to learn more about the varied services that a senior living community can provide to your parent, contact a Five Star community near you.