Starting the Conversation About Senior Living

Starting the Conversation About Senior Living

Beginning a conversation about senior living, whether independent living, skilled nursing, or anything in between, can feel intimidating. While it is common for older adults to advocate for their own move to a retirement community so they can connect with neighbors, enjoy chef-prepared meals and get extra support if they ever need it, sometimes family members are the ones who need to introduce the conversation.

If you find yourself wanting to talk about retirement communities to your loved one, here are a few of our tips that can make the conversation go smoothly.

Jot Down Your Concerns

Before you even start to speak with your loved one, take some time to prepare. Take a moment to write down why you think making a move is a good next step for them. This is the time to be as specific as possible with your concerns. For example, you might want to write down that your loved one has fallen a few times in the past year or that they are no longer going out to eat weekly with their friends like they used to. Having a list to refer back to can be helpful.

Speak with Your Siblings

The next step is to speak with your siblings, especially if you have a sibling who sees your loved one more often. It’s important to talk about your concerns together so you can share observations. Your sister might visit in the mornings, for example, and never notice that your dad is confused. When you visit in the evenings, your dad is almost always confused. Speaking about it together can help give everyone a bigger picture of what is happening in the home.

Call the Doctor

It can also be helpful for you to enlist the expertise of your loved one’s physician. You can schedule an appointment to meet with your loved one and the doctor or you can simply request a call back from the nurse to chat about your concerns. The physician can let you know what they are seeing and how they believe any medical conditions will progress.

Bring It Up

Now that you are prepared, you can bring the subject up to your loved one. Remember to go into the conversation when everyone is in a good mood, before anyone is feeling stressed, rushed, or overstimulated. Bring up the topic by mentioning what you have specifically observed, how that affects your loved one and how a retirement community can help.

For example, try saying, “Mom, I notice that you have been choosing to skip going to breakfast after church with your girlfriends because you don’t have the energy anymore. That must be sad for you to miss something you used to love. A retirement community can provide the support you need so you spend your energy visiting with friends instead of getting ready for the day all by yourself.”

Know When to Stop

The first conversation about the move to a community hardly ever ends in complete agreement. If you feel the conversation is causing your loved one to shut down or be defensive, stop the conversation and move to something else. You can bring it up again another day.

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