If you’re reading this article, you likely have a parent or older loved one whose current lifestyle would be better suited to a senior living community. Maybe they’ve mentioned it before as something to think about in the future, or maybe they haven’t been ready to discuss it at all.
Regardless of their independence status, many older adults would prefer to stay at home as they age. However, they may not be aware of how much they can gain from making a senior living community their home, and the many other benefits it can provide for their health and wellness. These conversations can be tricky, though — so here are some tips on how to talk to your parents or older loved ones about senior living.
Preparing for the Discussion
Talking about something as significant as a move isn’t something you’ll want to just jump into when you get a moment alone. You’ll want to be as prepared as possible and schedule the time so there is ample opportunity for discussion, reactions, questions and setting next steps. Take some early steps to prepare for the conversation to make it feel as effortless and simple as possible:
- Study up on the topic. Before you start discussing anything, make sure you do your own research first. You’ll want to learn about things like terminology, different levels of care, the advantages of certain models versus others — as much information as you can get your hands on. Coming to the conversation with a strong understanding of the differences between a 55+ and a CCRC and a Life Care contract vs. Fee-for-service, for example, should give you an advantage as you show your parents or older loved ones they can trust you as a source of information. Building that extra layer of trust will go a long way in helping them to make a decision. Many times you can find this information online, but you can also reach out to senior living communities for further understanding. It can be confusing but staff are well-versed and experts at explaining these details.
- Talk to other family members. Speaking of getting people on board — get the rest of your family involved. It’s important to include other relatives in the discussion when deciding on such a significant change to your loved one’s lifestyle. Anybody who could be directly impacted by the choice should be involved in the conversation.
- Make a list of concerns. Why are you having this conversation with them in the first place? Are they dealing with consistent health problems? Are daily activities becoming an issue? Have they stopped seeing friends and you’re concerned about social isolation? Or do you simply want to make sure they have a plan for the future so they (and you) can have peace of mind? Whatever the case may be, come prepared to express your concerns openly and honestly.
Having the Conversation
The key is to keep it light and simple, especially in the beginning. Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Show empathy. If you think having this conversation is tough, imagine how tough it is to actually make the decision. It’s not easy by any means. Nobody likes to face the thought of aging and needing any kind of assistance. To take it even further, moving out of the home you raised your kids in can be equally difficult to come to terms with. Try to be compassionate and understanding. Ask questions about your loved one’s current quality of life and what they see for themselves and the future. Allow for them to come to the decision with you and they will be more open to it.
- Take time to listen. There will likely be a lot of back and forth in these discussions, especially as you lay out all the information you’ve gathered. Listen to their responses — their fears, worries, predispositions — and keep them in mind as you work together to determine the best solution.
- Chat face to face. Whether you can get together in person or not, there is plenty of technology available that makes face-to-face chats more practical than ever before. Through Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype, connecting over the internet has never been easier.
- Plan the next steps. Always plan next steps at the end of a conversation. There will be many of these before a decision is made, and keeping the momentum will be important by identifying specific actions, be it a tour, attending an event, requesting information, talking to a financial planner, etc.
Knowing the Benefits of Senior Living
Once you’ve started the conversation, you’ll want to talk about the reasons a senior living community might be better than their current situation. And there’s more to it than you may think. Some of the most important benefits of senior living include:
- The security of lifelong care. Probably the most important and obvious reason to move into a retirement community is the dependability of lifelong care, on-site and always available. Having a team of medical professionals on call 24/7 can have a significant impact on long-term health and make a big difference in overall well-being. Beyond that, having the assurance of knowing they won’t have to move again can relieve a lot of people of their anxieties as your parents or loved ones get older. Less stress on them and family members often leads to more happiness all-around.
- Less worry about home maintenance. One of the most fruitful parts of living in a senior living community is the freedom from housekeeping and yard care. Having all of that handled takes a lot of stress off of residents. Less worry about home maintenance means more time spent enjoying the things your parents or loved ones actually want to do with their day.
- A community of neighbors to meet. Making friends can always be a tricky thing, but it’s especially true once you reach an older age. While our 30s and 40s are littered with new faces through work, the connections your children make, and just life in general, it changes as you age. Moving into a senior living community gives residents the opportunity to be around a large number of peers that live within close proximity. Having quality friendships has been proven to lower the risk of dementia and increase a person’s lifespan by building stronger mental health.
This entire conversation can be hard to have, but it doesn’t have to be. While there are plenty of other resources out there for you to use as you prepare for this discussion, feel free to take a look at our website at viamonteliving.org for more information about senior living. Beyond that, you can also use us as a reference when it comes time to start comparing your options. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact our team at 925.621.6600 or reach out to us online!