Having Important Conversations

When the time comes to consider senior living for your parent or loved one, it is natural to feel apprehensive about discussing the transition. While your instinct may be to avoid talking about moving away from home until it becomes an emergency, it would be more productive to prepare yourself and your loved one for what may come next.

We’ve provided some tips below that may help make your conversations more productive.

Come prepared

  • Do your research. Does your father or loved one need help with dressing? Taking medication on time? By understanding exactly what care level your loved one might need, you can research with a clear starting point.
  • Learn the language. Independent living, assisted living, and dementia care are all different services that offer various care levels. Prepare yourself with this knowledge so you can communicate to other clearly.

Show empathy

  • Ask “how would I feel?” By putting yourself in your loved ones shoes, you will be better equipped to comprehend any fears they may have.
  • Choose your words wisely. Terms such as “assisted living” and “community” are less intimidating than “nursing home” and “facility.”
  • Be conscious of your tone. Speak in a calm voice to provide reassurance and try hard to maintain that tone throughout the conversation—even if your loved one becomes angry.

Involve your loved one (if appropriate)

  • Avoid the “us vs. them” mentality. You can offer to include your parent in the research and take their input into consideration. Show her the Sunrise website and blog, explain that she can bring along her dog and her furniture and include them on community tours.
  • Respect their wishes. If your loved one would rather you handle the process, respect their wishes and try to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Don’t do it alone

  • Include an unbiased third party. Bringing another person into the conversation, such as a doctor, partner, or close friend, can help ground the discussion and keep things on track.
  • Get your siblings on board. Family tension can add stress to an already stressful situation. Connect with your family prior to approaching your parent, and make sure you are all on the same team.

Understand you may face some resistance

  • Do not expect to come to a decision after one conversation. Resisting change is normal. Let your loved one sit with the idea of getting some assistance or moving.
  • Make this an ongoing conversation. Set aside a time to revisit the topic after your initial talk, and continue to approach the subject with sensitivity.