Broaching The Senior Living Discussion

If you are an adult child of aging parents, you may be concerned that they are no longer the vibrant, active retirees they were?  You may notice your parents moving a little slower and needing more help to be safe?  Their medical problems are becoming chronic and may be getting more serious, or that they are much more forgetful and fatigued than in the past. Perhaps, you’ve even had to insist that Mom or Dad refrain from driving.  You know it’s past time to start discussing alternate living arrangements for your parents where they will be safe.

Start the Senior Living Discussion

According the Seniors Housing Association, 89% of children with aging parents help them with the decision-making process when planning a move to a senior living community. When you see indications that your parents are not safe in their house, studies prove they will benefit from the advantages of a senior living community. The transition to a senior living community requires that you will need to initiate the conversation.

Keep in mind, most people don’t like to admit they need help … and they’re fighting to retain their perceived independence.  So, start the dialog gently by asking hypothetical questions, such as, “Mom and Dad, what are your thoughts about living in a senior community?”  Or, “if at some point you or Dad have trouble handling your day to day activities, would you be open to looking at senior living options?”  You may have to have these discussions a number of times before getting your parents to even consider the possibility of moving.

Assess Level of Care

There are many senior living choices; so, it’s important that you know your parent’s preferences and understand the optimum level of care needed.  Most communities today offer a continuum of care. Many healthy seniors opt for independent living in cottages or apartments.  As they age and have health or mobility issues, they can choose a more catered lifestyle such as assisted living.  Many of these communities also have memory care, rehabilitation services and skilled nursing facilities.  Your parent’s physician as well as the senior community staff can help assesses the level of care your parents need.

Focus on Important Criteria

When choosing the best senior living option for your parents, you will want to focus on three critical issues: quality of lifestandards of care, and cost verses value.  Which community will meet the criteria?  You and your parents will need to tour the various communities, sit down with their staff and ask lots of questions, as well as be prepared to discuss finances.

As you walk through the community, look to see if residents and staff are smiling and friendly? Try to get a feel for how well the residents are cared for by the smells, how well the property is maintained, and how you feel when you are touring.   Ask about activities, social opportunities, and supportive programs.  What are the meal options?  Talk to the other residents that are living at the community currently.  Today, senior communities address not just the physical well-being of their residents but also the spiritual, emotional and mental well-being.  No doubt, you and your parents will be pleasantly surprised at the number of services and amenities offered.

Make this Decision Together

Letting your parents be a big part of this decision-making process can help with their acceptance of such a monumental change in their life and help them adjust to a different lifestyle. The more you allow it to be their choice, the better their dignity will be preserved.  Mark Twain once said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”  But, here is what really matters … your parent’s happiness, quality of healthcare, and your peace of mind.

Need Help Discussing Senior Living With Your Parents?

We’ve prepared a special guide to help you have a positive, productive, and caring conversation with your parents about senior living. It’s called Life’s Most Challenging Conversation: How To Talk to Your Parents About Senior Living. Your information is kept 100% confidential and will never be shared with a third party.