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How To Jumpstart The Conversation About Senior Living

Talk To Your Parents About A Positive Plan For The Future

Adult children are often faced with talking to an aging parent or family member about getting older, plans for the future, needing help and where to live. Even if it seems difficult, it’s an important conversation to start having well before an emergent situation or health scare occurs. Here are tips from Longleaf Bee Cave for beginning this important dialogue before it becomes a necessity.

Learn The Next Steps To Take

  1. Make a list of concerns you have for your parent or family member. For example, you may be worried about their physical safety at home or their medication management. Write down everything that worries you. This is not the time to jump ahead and put together a plan on your own; instead, think about how you can guide the conversation with questions that allow them to express their thoughts, concerns and plans.
  2. Set up a time for a discussion about future plans, so your loved one can begin thinking of their own ideas and solutions. If they’re aware of the topic of conversation, they’re less likely to feel blindsided and become overly defensive. Notify siblings and family members that you’re planning to talk so they have an opportunity to be included.
  3. Learn about different options in senior living. You’ll find a range of options from independent living and in-home care to assisted living and continuing care, all of which include different types of senior care services. While you research, be realistic about the amount of help your loved one actually needs – you want to ensure each community has the appropriate care.
  4. Try to talk in person if possible, and choose a time when you are both well-rested and can talk without interruption. Consider a neutral site outside of your loved one’s home and even the possibility of involving an outside person who’s close to the family, such as an attorney, physician, minister or friend.
  5. Ask questions and focus on language that is clear, supportive, non-confrontational and in line with your concerns for your parent. Keep your demeanor respectful and empathetic, remembering to use open body language – no crossed arms or hunched shoulders. Emphasize how much you care about their ideas for their future. Use direct language such as:
    “Where would you want to live if you ever decided you would rather not live by yourself anymore?” “What kinds of things could you use help with?”
    “How can we protect you from taking a bad fall?”
  6. Soak in what they have to say rather than providing a solution. Provide reassurance that you want to be their partner in solving a particular need or issue in their life. Remember you can always pick up the conversation at a later time if it gets heated or overly emotional.
  7. Talk again. And again. While it would be ideal to make a firm plan in one conversation, this process will involve multiple discussions. As long as you aren’t facing an emergent health issue or safety risk, it’s wise to take the time needed to develop a mutually agreeable plan.

Starting these conversations may not be easy, but it can bring peace of mind for the future for everyone involved. The sooner you open up the lines of communication, the sooner you can understand your parent’s hopes and desires for aging and help them navigate through life’s transitions. Contact us if you have additional questions, would like more information about Longleaf Bee Cave or if we can help be a further resource in the process.