How to Jumpstart the Senior Living Conversation, and What to Do Next
Starting the conversation with parents or loved ones about transitioning to a senior living community can be difficult. They may feel that the very suggestion of moving from their current home calls into question their competence and challenges their sense of self-reliance and independence. So, how can you negotiate this emotionally fraught discussion and keep the channels of communication relaxed and open? Below are some simple tips to keep in mind.
Be Honest About Your Concerns
Make it clear from the start that you’re suggesting the possibility of a senior living community because you want them to continue to live their very best, most fulfilling lives right now–and in the future. You can express your concerns about eventual home and yard upkeep, about your desire for them to stay healthy and fit, and safety concerns about being alone in the case of an emergency. By making the conversation about your concern and love for them–and not about what they might interpret as their “deficiencies”—you’ll have much a better chance of the conversation falling on receptive ears.
Listen and Be Open
Your parents or loved ones’ home may have been the family home for decades. This is where children were raised, memories were made, and lifelong friendships with neighbors were established. Leaving behind what they’ve known for years can be hard, so make sure that you listen to their feelings and be open and sensitive to their concerns. Make it clear that their voices are important in the conversation, that they are being heard, and that their desires are ultimately what are most important.
Present a Unified Front
It’s critical that you, your siblings and other family members are all in agreement about the direction of the conversation before it takes place—and it’s always most effective when that conversation takes place as a family. There’s power in numbers. When parents or loved ones see that there is a consensus of concern, no dissenting voices, and considerable family support for the idea, they’ll be much more open to considering the move.
So, Let’s Say the Conversation Goes Well.
What should you do next? Here are three action steps to get you started.
Begin Your Search
You can start your search for senior living communities online at sites such as seniorliving.org. Enter your desired area and the site provides a directory of communities available, along with key facts and contact information. Your local senior center or chapter of AARP may also be helpful resources. When searching for a community, consider the active lifestyle of your loved one now and the care options he or she may need in the future. Many seniors are looking at communities, such as North Oaks, that provide active independent living with a wide range of residence styles, amenities, services, social activities and dining choices — and that also offer a continuum of care that includes assisted living, skilled nursing, rehabilitation, and memory care should it become necessary.
This website is a helpful interactive guide to senior living and care options. This collection of unbiased resources will help you make decisions that are routed in research and data. Where You Live Matters is a one-stop-shop that covers several aspects of senior living and the decision journey.
Get Finances in Order
Once you narrow your search of senior living options, the next step may be financial planning for your loved one’s future home and care. Call the communities in which you are interested, tour the campus, and discuss services, costs and payment procedures. Quality senior living communities such as North Oaks are staffed with knowledgeable advisors who can help you navigate their financial processes as well as direct you to outside resources.
Make Legal Preparations
The preparation for the move may be the perfect time to make sure that a will, living will, power of attorney and other legal documents are officially executed to ensure that your loved ones’ plans are carried out as they wish. Specific legal issues and questions may be best addressed with an attorney who specializes in senior care or a related field, but you can begin any general legal searches online at sites such as seniorlaw.com.
Remember, open communication is just as important in the “search and preparation” phase as it is in the “discussion” phase. Listen closely to your loved one and work together so you can create a realistic plan of action that satisfies the needs and expectations of everyone in the family.
If you ever need any help in your senior living planning, our team of experts at North Oaks are always ready to assist you in any way we can. Just call us at (410) 486-9090, or drop us a line via our contact us page.