Talking to Loved Ones About Senior Living Communities
If you recognize that, in order for your senior loved ones to live life to the fullest, they should make the move to a senior living community in Tacoma, Washington you may encounter some resistance. Here are some tips on how to have “the conversation” with your parents. These tips work regardless of the topic – whether it’s expressing concern over the fact that they’re still driving or considering moving to a senior living community.
- Look for opportunities
It’s likely many of your parents’ friends are experiencing similar challenges. If your mother mentions a friend who is moving to a senior living community in Tacoma, ask how she would feel about doing that and be ready to discuss the many advantages of doing so.
- Be empathetic to their situation
Embrace a spirit of compassion and respect. Change is hard for most people and can be particularly hard when it means acknowledging getting older and having to adjust to new realities. Show your parents that you understand their concerns and that your greatest wish for them is for their optimum well-being.
- Be willing to hear opposing points of view
While you may be primarily interested in your parents’ safety, they may be more interested in retaining their independence. Stay open and really listen to their concerns and work with them to find a senior living home that meets everyone’s objectives.
- Offer to be a resource
If you’re meeting resistance, offer to help find solutions. Find some 55 and older communities in your area and go explore the facilities with them. Let your parents know they’re not in this alone and you’ll be with them along the way.
- Know the senior housing options. Before bringing up the topic, learn about the different types of senior living settings—especially in the state where your elder lives or may wish to relocate eventually. Although pricing varies widely and may change over time, research average costs for each type of senior living in your
- Make future plans an ongoing discussion. Broaching this topic while elders are still able to live safely in the community gives you the opportunity to discuss the future in a non-threatening, hypothetical way. Have the conversation in a casual, comfortable spot, like at the kitchen table. Start by saying, “I know this is hard to talk about, but I want to be sure that I honor your wishes. In order for me to do that, I need to know exactly what they are. We don’t have to decide anything today, but let’s just start the discussion, so we can keep this in mind and be better prepared for the future.”
- Promise to keep seniors involved in decisions. Everyone wants to be able to choose the senior living community they live in and the kind of care they receive. Age does not change this preference. If they are healthy enough to do so, ask your parents to join you in touring senior living communities around Tacoma, WA or going to visit friends and relatives who have already made the move. Seeing these settings firsthand, getting a feel for how they function, and speaking with current residents candidly about their experiences will help immensely when it comes to making a decision.
- Present housing options with positive language and tone. One way to ensure this conversation goes smoothly is to be careful about how you present it. When speaking about assisted living, use positive, non-threatening words. Refer to assisted living as a “community” rather than a facility. Talk about “condo-style living” or “apartments” rather than “rooms.” Highlight the activities, amenities and social opportunities available throughout retirement homes rather than the doctors and assistance with activities of daily living. The tone of voice you use can make a big difference, too. Make a conscious effort to speak in a calm, quiet and pleasant tone. Let your parent know that it is important to you that he or she be the one to make the final decision about which senior community they choose to live in.
- Identify the what-ifs. If both parents are still alive and together, ask what may need to happen if one of them dies. Should the home be sold? Should the surviving parent downsize or move into a senior living community? This facet of “the talk” can be difficult and sad, but it can help you learn about your parents’ wishes for each other and shed some light on what they have discussed among themselves. Express that this is an unpleasant scenario to consider but share that your goal is to know what they want for one another. Try saying something like, “Mom and dad, both of you are okay now, but what should we do if that changes?” Ask each of them what they would want for the other person if the worst were to happen. Hopefully they would want each other to be safe, well-cared for, and financially stable. Ask for suggestions on how you can help ensure these things.
- Recognize why seniors want to stay at home. Elders may not want to or be able to express this, but most know deep down that if they make a move to a senior living community, it is likely their final residence in Tacoma. They also may be unprepared to have their relationship with you change, and fear losing their independence. Keeping their concerns in mind during these discussions will help you answer their questions and respond to their objections. Discuss ways that you can potentially bring help into the home, so they can remain living in their house longer. Emphasize that a move to a 55 and older community does not mean they’ll no longer have control over their daily life. Most seniors find that, with the housekeeping, laundry and meals taken care of, they have much more free time for the things they actually enjoy doing.
- Research the progression of illness. If your loved one has been diagnosed with a progressive medical condition, such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia or heart failure, learn about how it will progress and how it could impact their ability to stay at home or make a decision about moving. Tactfully share what you’ve learned from their doctor or through your research, and discuss how the services offered by certain long-term care settings could help them in six months, a year, 18 months from now, etc. For example, it can be disorienting and upsetting to move an elder with dementia, but they often have to move to different settings that are designed to provide more intensive care as they decline. Finding the right senior living community in Tacoma, WA that can meet their current and future healthcare needs, such as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) will ensure the elder’s life doesn’t have to be disrupted multiple times due to increasing care needs.