We Need to Talk about Senior Living (Part 2)

family, generation and people concept - happy smiling senior mother with adult son hugging at home

Our last blog discussed signs that it might be time for your older loved one to move into a senior living community as well as the myriad concerns they may have about doing so, especially during these unprecedented times.

Equipped with an awareness of what to look for in an aging parent and what their fears and reservations may be, you can begin having conversations about a move to senior living.

Here we examine how to do it in a timely, effective, compassionate manner that will leave all parties feeling heard, understood and looking forward to the next chapter.

Don’t delay!

The worst time to talk about moving into senior living is when you’re faced with a crisis and forced to act immediately. With no time to properly research options or prepare for the change, you are at risk for making less than ideal choices. The time to begin conversations is well before an emergency situation arises, when all parties are calm, and your senior can gradually acclimate to the idea of a move.

Do your research.

Enter into discussions having done your homework about various living options, care models, costs, activities and amenities, and specific communities.

Tour a senior living community with them.

Identify communities you think would be a good fit before you begin conversations with your aging parents. Later, when you are engaged in discussions, take them on the tour with you. With virtual tours so prevalent now, it’s easy to explore from the comfort of home. Some communities even offer trial stays, easing the pressure to make permanent decisions.

Involve other family members or a trusted professional.

A united front among siblings and other key family members (including your parent’s spouse, if applicable) facilitates a smooth transition with no surprises or dramatic confrontations. If your aging family member refuses to consider or discuss a move, enlist the help of a trusted doctor or legal expert who knows their baseline and may be more effective at advising them. 

Empower your loved one.

Unless your loved one is significantly cognitively impaired, he or she should be the most influential voice in the conversation. Listen attentively to them with respect for their preferences, concerns, fears, desires, while also stressing the importance of a cohesive plan.

Watch your language.

Talk to your senior with patience, empathy and understanding of any apprehensions they may have about moving into senior living. Use “you”-centered language; for example, “You would love the courtyard garden!” or “You would feel safe and secure,” as opposed to “We need you to do this.” Lead with understanding, compassion and a soft touch. Avoid issuing orders or using a patronizing or authoritative tone.

Choose the right time, place and pace.

As a family member, you are best able to determine when and where your loved one would be most amenable to having a potentially tough conversation. Choose a time when they are alert and refreshed and a place where they feel relaxed and comfortable. Pacing of the conversations is important, too, as there will likely be several discussions about this topic over time. Don’t pressure them to talk about every aspect all at once or overwhelm them with too much information. Notice when they’ve had enough and ease off for the time being, while gently emphasizing the need for the conversation to continue.

Be honest.

Speak openly and realistically about transitions, concerns, possibilities and limitations. Don’t “sugarcoat” realities or over-hype a community you particularly like or the senior living model in general. Your loved one will appreciate your candor and trust you more as a partner in the process.

Stress the benefits.

That said, you can truthfully convey the many benefits of quality senior living, including medical attention, increased freedom from responsibilities, heightened safety and security, healthy socialization, nutritious and delicious meals, ample activities and amenities, new friends, dedicated staff, and so much more.

Senior Living at Barclay Friends

Barclay Friends is your partner in navigating the right plan for your aging loved one. Prior to moving in, residents and their families meet with our Residence Counselor, Personal Care Administrator and Admissions Director 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.

Want to learn more about our services?

Preston, our new building, is complete. We are here to help 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.