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Jumpstarting The Conversation About Senior Living

How To Talk To Your Loved One About Plans For The Future

When you think it may be time to move your parent to a senior living community, starting the dialogue with a loved one or even with yourself might be the most difficult part. Why? It’s human nature to be resistant to change – and your parent, like many in their generation, may have strong feelings about staying in their own home. The fact is, it’s an important conversation to start having well before an emergent situation or health scare occurs. Here are tips from Longleaf Liberty Park to open the lines of communication.

Take The Next Step In Communication

    1. Write down any concerns you have for your parent or family member. For instance, you may be worried about how they keep track of medications or take care of household chores. Make a list of everything that concerns you, but don’t start putting together a plan on your own. Instead, prepare to guide the conversation with questions that allow them to express their thoughts, concerns and plans.
    2. Set up a time to talk and let them know what you’d like to address so they can start to think about their own vision for the future. If they feel blindsided by the conversation, they could become overly defensive. Let siblings and family members know that you’re planning a discussion so they don’t feel left out.
    3. Educate yourself on different options in senior living. You’ll find a range of options all of which include different types of senior care services – everything from independent living and in-home care to assisted living and continuing care. If you’re realistic about the amount of help your loved one truly needs, you’ll ensure they end up with the proper level of care.
    4. Sit down to talk in person, rather than by telephone if possible, and at a time when you are both well-rested and can talk without interruption. It could be helpful to go to a neutral site outside of their home or to involve an outside person close to the family, such as an attorney, physician, minister or friend.
    5. Ask questions and try to use language that is clear, supportive, non-confrontational and in line with your concerns for your parent. Keep your demeanor respectful and empathetic, remembering to use open body language – no crossed arms or hunched shoulders. Emphasize how much you care about their feelings about their next chapter.

    Sample questions:

    “Where would you want to live if you ever decided you would rather not live by yourself anymore?”

    “How can we protect you from taking a bad fall?”

    “How has it been for you living at home alone?

    “Have you thought about whether you’d like to be around other people your age in a retirement community?”

    1. Listen closely to their responses while assuring them you are their partner in addressing certain needs or issues in their life. Make sure you take in their complete answer before offering your opinion or advice. If the conversation gets heated or overly emotional, stop and pick it up at a later time.
    2. Talk again. And again. While it would be ideal to make a firm plan in one conversation, this process will involve multiple discussions. As long as you don’t have an emergent health issue or safety risk to deal with, it makes sense to take the time needed to develop a mutually agreeable plan.

    By having these conversations before any serious incidents occur, you can be sure you clearly understand your parent or loved one’s hopes and desires for aging. Contact us if you have additional questions, would like more information about Longleaf Liberty Park or if we can help be a further resource in the process.

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