Talking To Your Loved One About Senior Living

How To Jumpstart A Conversation About Plans For The Future.

When you think it may be time to move your parent to a senior living community, starting the dialogue with a loved one or even with yourself might be the most difficult part. It’s likely your parent will have strong feelings about leaving their home or accepting outside help, but it’s an important conversation to start having well before an emergent situation or health scare occurs. Here are some ideas from Silver Creek to help open the lines of communication.

Take The Next Step In Communication

  1. Make a list of concerns you have for your parent or family member. For example, you may be worried about their medication management or physical safety at home. Write down everything that concerns you, and prepare to guide the conversation with questions that allow them to express their perspective.
  2. Set up a time to talk, and let them know what you’d like to address so they can start to think about their own vision for the future. If they feel blindsided by the conversation, they could become overly defensive. Notify siblings and family members that you’re planning a discussion so they don’t feel kept in the dark.
  3. Research different options in senior living in your desired area. You’ll likely find a range of options from independent living and assisted living to in-home care and continuing care, all of which include different services. Be realistic about the amount of help your loved one actually needs.
  4. Talk to your loved one in person, not by telephone if possible, and find a time when you are both well-rested and able to talk without interruption. Consider going to a neutral site outside of their home or including someone else close to the family, such as an attorney, physician, minister or friend.
  5. Ask questions, choosing words that are clear, supportive, non-confrontational and relating to your concerns for your parent. Emphasize how much you care about their feelings about their next chapter. Use direct language such as:
    “What kinds of things could you use help with?”
    “How can we protect you from taking a bad fall?”
    “Have you thought about whether you’d like to be around other people your age in a retirement community?”
  6. Listen closely to their responses while assuring them you will work together to address certain needs or issues in their life. Make sure you hear their complete answer before offering your opinion or advice. If the conversation gets overly emotional or intense, take a break and pick it up at another time.
  7. Keep talking. Even though it would be nice to come up with a solution in one conversation, this process may take some time. If there isn’t an emergent health issue or major safety risk, you and your loved one should take the time to make a plan that feels as comfortable as possible for you both.

The sooner you start this conversation, the better you can understand your parent’s hopes and desires for aging. Contact us if you have additional questions, would like more information about Silver Creek or if we can help be a further resource in the process.