Having the important conversations

When the time comes to consider senior living for your parent or loved one, it is natural to feel apprehensive about discussing the transition. Conversations of this nature are critical and have the ability to shape your parent’s experience at a senior living community. While your instinct may be to avoid talking about moving away from home until it becomes an emergency, it is always more productive to prepare yourself and your loved one for what may come next.

While this stage of life can be wrought with stress and emotion, these tips may help make your conversations more productive.

Come prepared.

  • Do your research. Does your father need help with home maintenance? Cooking? Dressing? Taking his medications on time? By understanding exactly what care level your loved one might need, your approach to research can be more streamlined. 
  • Learn the lingo. Independent living, home care, assisted living, and memory care are all different services that offer various care levels. Arm yourself with this knowledge so you can confidently approach your parent.

Show empathy.

  • Ask “how would I feel?” By putting yourself in your parent’s shoes, you will be better equipped to comprehend the fears and sadness she may be facing.
  • Choose your words wisely. Terms such as “assisted living” and “community” are less intimidating than “nursing home” and “facility.”
  • Be conscious of your tone. Speak in a calm and pleasant voice to reassure your parent, and try hard to maintain that tone throughout the conversation—even if your loved one becomes angry.

Involve your loved one (if they want).

  • Avoid the “us vs. them” mentality. Offer to include your parent in the research and take her input into consideration. Show her the Sunrise website and blog, explain that she can bring along her dog and her furniture, and include her on community tours—she may be more invested in the process as a result.
  • Respect your parent’s wishes. If your dad would rather you handle the process, respect his wishes and try to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Don’t do it alone.

  • Include an unbiased third party. Bringing another person into the conversation, such as a doctor, faith partner, or close friend, can help ground the discussion and keep things on track.
  • Get your siblings on board. Family tension can add stress to an already stressful situation. Connect with your family prior to approaching your parent, and make sure you are all on the same team.

Understand you may face some resistance.

  • Do not expect to come to a decision after one conversation. Resisting change is normal. Let your loved one sit with the idea of getting some assistance or moving.
  • Make this an ongoing conversation. Set aside a time to revisit the topic after your initial talk, and continue to approach the subject with sensitivity.

If you have any questions about having the talk with your loved ones, our experienced senior living counselors are happy to provide a listening ear and helpful advice.