We Need to Talk About Senior Living (Part 1)

Two generations, senior woman and son, talking on a couch

There are few conversations more difficult than the one between adult children and their aging parents about moving into a care-centered living environment. This is the case in so-called “normal” times.

The pandemic has made these discussions even more fraught with anxiety.

Yet, regardless of the additional stress COVID-19 is placing on decisions to move into senior living, many older adults still need care beyond what they or their family members can provide – and the conversations must still be had. What’s more, the socialization senior living affords older people is critical to overall health and longevity.

Such talks become essential when a senior parent or loved one displays signs that they can no longer adequately care for themselves.

Signs your aging parent may need help

  • The six Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) can no longer be independently accomplished:
    • Bathing
    • Dressing
    • Toileting
    • Getting in and out of bed
    • Continence
    • Eating
  • Other signs of distress:
    • Chronic or debilitating health conditions
    • Depression and/or isolation
    • Significant cognitive or memory issues
    • Decreased strength or mobility
    • Frequent falls, evidenced by bruises and scrapes
    • Trouble paying bills or managing finances
    • Odors or poor personal hygiene
    • Hoarding or an uncharacteristically messy house
    • Poor eating habits
    • Trouble managing medication
    • Driving mishaps
    • Falling for scams that prey on the elderly
    • Dehydration

Being aware of signs is only half the battle. The other half is knowing how to appropriately broach this subject so it isn’t a battle, but a loving dialogue. This includes understanding why your senior may be apprehensive about moving to a care community in the first place.

Why older people may be hesitant about senior living

I’ll lose my privacy and independence.

Regardless of their needs, many seniors equate such a move to a loss of autonomy. While living in a care environment (where meals and household responsibilities are taken care of and opportunities for socializing are plentiful) is actually freeing, this is often not an older person’s initial perception of senior living.

Someone else will take control.

Seniors may also worry that others will control their money, their activities, when and what they eat, when they sleep, whom they visit, etc.

Now I’m really falling apart.

Suggestions that parents should move into an assisted setting bring to light the reality that they’re becoming frail and potentially unable to move about and take care of themselves. This can be disheartening and frightening.

I wanted to leave an inheritance to my children and senior housing will take all my money.

Many seniors come from the Depression era when money was tight and have a strong interest in protecting their children and grandchildren from the economic stress they experienced.

I’m going there to die.

While many senior living communities are purposefully designed for residents to age in place, older people may dwell on the idea that this is their “final resting place.”

Everything will be unfamiliar, and I won’t have any friends.

Relocating to a new living environment is scary and disorienting for anyone, whether it’s the new kid in school, a college freshman or an older adult. Seniors faced with the prospect of leaving familiar people and surroundings may be more focused on the fear of the unknown than ample opportunities to make new friends and do new things.  

Barclay Friends Understands

Barclay Friends is your partner in navigating the right plan for your aging loved one. Our experienced staff is keenly aware of the signs your aging parent may need help beyond what they, or you, can provide. We also understand how difficult this decision can be and why your loved ones may be hesitant to move to a care environment.

With love, patience and compassion, our Residence Counselor, Personal Care Administrator and Admissions Director meet with you and your senior prior to moving in to discuss the approaches that will be most helpful.

Residents and those in rehabilitation have the benefit of consulting with our Social Service, Nursing and Personal Care Staff. Our psychiatrist and psychologist make house calls and can discuss issues or even adjust medications, if necessary.

Part II of this discussion will focus on how to have effective conversations about senior living with your aging loved ones.

Want to learn more about our services?

Preston, our new construction, is complete. We are here to facilitate the discussions you may have already begun with the senior in your life. Join our interest list to be sent information about upcoming events.

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