How to Talk To Parents About Senior Care & Living
For seniors that have lived independently for the majority of their lives, the thought of giving up their independence can be nerve-racking - making having the conversation on senior living options a challenging task. You may have noticed some warning signs and felt unsure of where or how to start the conversation with your parents.
Regardless of the case, Cared Upon is here to help you navigate this difficult conversation. We’ve outlined the 4 key steps you can take to approach the conversation about senior living with an ageing loved one.
Involve Your Siblings or Close Family Members in the Conversation
Inviting your siblings or close family members to share their points of view on the matter and to listen to you share your concerns is a great way to get feedback and support on what steps to take next. You may choose to bring forward the evidence you have picked up and explain some of the signs you noticed on why you feel that a loved one needs help. While some family members may be resistant to having the conversation or may offer different solutions for helping your loved one, it is important that you discuss these differences and solve them before approaching the conversation as a family.
Be Patient & Have Empathy
When it comes to discussing the topic of a loved one's health, it is important to approach the conversation with the utmost care, patience, and compassion as they may either be reluctant to have the discussion, or they may be in denial about any recent health issues they have been struggling with. It helps to put yourself in their shoes so you can remain patient during the conversation, and understand that struggling with health issues could lead to a variety of circumstances, one of which may ultimately lead to an unplanned loss of independence for them.
It is also vital that you explicitly mention they have the last say over what happens, as you cannot push them to make a decision they are not prepared to make - all you can do is support them with whichever decision they end up making. Make it clear that your concern is on their well-being and helping them find the best-suited care for their needs.
Have an Open Conversation
Many seniors find it difficult to ask for assistance when it comes to their health, as they could either be struggling to come to terms with their condition, or they may be uncertain of how to communicate their needs to you. Prior to the discussion, choose a time that works for everyone, as you may have to hire a mediator - such as their primary doctor, a social worker, or a senior living expert - to help them explore their long-term care alternatives. You can begin with asking open-ended questions posed from a place of concern to give you a good sense of their expectations and to help you both collaborate on discovering appropriate care alternatives. You may choose to ask them the following questions:
- Where do you see yourself living long-term?
- How can we support you with your doctor’s visits?
- How can we support you with managing your finances?
- Do you have any concerns with your safety given your current living conditions?
It is essential that you remain patient, as they may be reluctant to provide intimate health or financial information until they are ready.
Avoid Taking the Lead
It is important to ensure that, while you keep your loved one’s best interests in mind, they have the last say in the decision they make. Rather than taking the lead and making all the decisions on your own, engaging your loved one in the conversation may help them open up to the idea of discussing senior living options as they will not feel confined to one option. The conversation should be handled as a collaborative discussion between you and your loved one regarding the various alternatives they have regarding senior living.
While beginning a new chapter with a senior loved one can be overwhelming, adopting these tips as a guideline for starting this difficult conversation in a courteous manner can be a helpful way to approach the subject. As you explore various options with them, you are ultimately assisting your loved one in achieving a higher quality of life.