So many community residents and their families talk about senior living as one of the best decisions they’ve made when it comes to maintaining an active, independent lifestyle as they get older. Still, many adult children find it difficult to bring up with a parent. It can be a very emotional time when it becomes the child’s turn to care for their aging parents.
Here are some suggestions on how the right preparation and mindset can make it a more positive experience.
Learn about the choices and benefits of senior living.
Before approaching a parent or loved one about senior living options, it’s important to understand the differences yourself. There are independent living and assisted living communities. For more specific or advanced needs there are memory care communities and nursing facilities.
An accurate understanding of your loved one’s needs will help you determine what living option may best suit them. Research and gather as much information as possible so that you can confidently communicate your concerns and present viable options.
Speak from the heart.
We all want our parents to be safe and happy. They want the same for us. Share your observations and concerns from a place of love, not fear. It might surprise you to discover they have similar concerns, but may not be comfortable expressing them to others. If they do show signs of resistance, meet them where they are with empathy, compassion, and understanding.
Choose your words carefully. Positive, solution-focused language can help ease resistance or anxiety. For instance, the word ‘community’ is inviting and interesting, while ‘facility’ can carry unintended connotations.
Choose a good time and place.
Important life discussions like senior living options deserve focused attention. It’s important to schedule a time in a location where you can have a private conversation with minimal distractions and interruptions. Make sure you have the time you all need to have a productive conversation but also be mindful of your loved one’s limitations. Are they getting tired or overwhelmed? Do they need some time to think about what is being said?
Be a mindful and empathetic listener.
Ask open-ended questions and listen without interrupting. It’s important to validate concerns and emotions, asking follow-up questions as needed. Write down questions and concerns that need to be addressed to help keep the conversation moving in the right direction.
Sometimes we think we know someone so well that we can predict how they will respond to a certain subject. However, making assumptions can create unnecessary obstacles or make us miss opportunities for a positive outcome.
Plan to keep talking.
This may be the first of several conversations, so close by summarizing any agreements or sticking points and set an expectation for when you could resume the discussion, if needed.
Even if your first conversation results in a decision, there will be plenty more before moving day. Throughout the process, stay focused on the positives, like the excitement of meeting new friends and exploring new interests and activities.
Even if your loved one is not completely sure about a move yet, visiting senior living communities and meeting residents and staff is a terrific way to help someone envision living there.
At Village Green Senior Living, people are the most important part of what we do, and we are proud of the warm, welcoming reception visitors get from the whole community. We strive to help our residents live how they want while having access to assistance when they need it, right where they are. We have guided many families along this path, always seeking to understand each person’s unique needs and concerns.
For more information, talk with a Village Green advisor at one of our two locations.