6 Tips for Talking to Parents About Senior Living.
When you have an aging loved one, sometimes you need a little help to start the conversation.
When family members begin to have trouble managing the tasks of daily living without assistance, you know that it’s time to start thinking about the different senior living options available. So what’s the best way to talk to a parent about making a move to an assisted living community? How do you explain all the benefits of senior living? What do you do if they resist having the conversation?
START BY PREPARING YOURSELF FIRST
It’s important that you gather all the information you need before having a conversation about senior living with your elderly parents. Your parents will have lots of questions – you probably do, too. By doing your research up front on what assisted living looks like on a day-to-day basis – the care, the interaction, even the costs – you’ll be prepared to answer your loved ones’ questions so everyone in the family can be comfortable and happy with the decision. Senior living today is not like the nursing homes or long-term care options of generations past. Today’s assisted living communities are often active, vibrant communities with numerous opportunities for socialization, engagement and enjoyment of life.
We encourage you to meet with the siblings involved with family decision-making and make sure everyone is on the same page about the path moving forward. You can then decide if a group or private conversation with your parent or parents would be more effective. And when you’ve worked through all these details, the time for conversation will be at hand.
When you need more information about the benefits of assisted living and advice on the topic, feel free to call us. We’ll be happy to give you a personal tour and share information about care and costs, as well as talk you through what a transition to senior living can look like.
And here are our tips for having the conversation:
Relax and Take a Breath
There may never be a perfect time or place, but when you feel a moment happen where the stress is low and a change of subject is natural, that’s your chance. You want to go into the conversation with an optimistic and positive attitude, able to stress the benefits as well as your love and concern.
TRY TO Ask Leading Questions
One great way to start the conversation is by asking questions that show how much you care and can get to the heart of what could be worrying your parents about their own aging.
- What is it about getting older that worries you most?
- Are there things you enjoyed doing but can’t do anymore?
- Do you ever feel lonely?
- What are your hopes for your future?
- Do you feel like you’re keeping up with the house OK?
- Is there anything your doctor said at your last physical that you think I should know about?
Listen, Engage, Care
Everyone wants to be heard. When you ask the questions, really listen to the answers. You care about your parents – and you want to make sure they know and understand that. Active listening is what transforms the questions and answers into a dialogue where you understand each other. Make sure that you’re not only paying attention, but that your body language is showing it. Leaning forward, nodding, eye contact and even smiling when appropriate are all signs that you’re engaged in the conversation and actually hearing what your parents have to say. When you want to interject, place a finger against your lips until they’ve stopped talking. Paraphrasing your loved one’s words – saying back to them, “It sounds like you’re saying …” – can also help you stay engaged and make it clear to your parents that you understand and aren’t dismissing any of their concerns.
Stress the Benefits and Excite Them About Possibilities
At Wesley Court Assisted Living, our residents’ days are filled with choices and exciting events. Seniors often think a move to senior living is the end of their freedom – while in reality, it can be a path to maintaining their independence, social outlets, hobbies and interest. Encourage your parents to keep an open mind, and let them know that modern senior living has transformed nursing homes and retirement communities into active, fun places to live. Persuade them, if you can, to visit and tour a senior living community to talk with residents and see for themselves what life can be like.
ALWAYS BE HONEST
Stay calm and stick to the facts. Share your concerns and observations. Let them know how caregiving affects you and why you’re concerned. Stress that you’re thinking long term – that you want them to continue to enjoy life and everything it has to offer. That you’re concerned for their day-to-day safety or that you want to make sure they can stay active and engaged. Focus on the fact that this conversation is one that is born out of caring. Plus, we’ve often found that once a parent moves into a senior living community and the day-to-day care and duties have been lifted from adult children, the relationships rekindle and flourish. You’ll be able to simply enjoy the time you spend together again without the stress and worry.
Don’t Wait for the Perfect Moment, and Don’t Wait Too Long
Seniors, like most people, adapt best when they can take their time, collect the facts, and sort through feelings unpressured. If you wait until a health or life event makes changes necessary, you can expect the circumstances – and the conversations – will become much more difficult and the transition much harder. If your loved one moves into assisted living relatively early, they often find it easier to make new friendships, routines and engage with everything the community has to offer – and it means if a health or life event does occur, they’re already well placed to receive additional help on a daily basis as needed.
We’re Here to Help You
At Wesley Court Assisted Living, we’ve helped families and seniors with the senior living decision-making journey for decades. We can consult with you and your loved one to make the process easier. Call for a personal consultation and start gathering your questions now.