Learn The Next Steps To Take
- 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.
- Set up a time to talk and let them know what you’d like to address so they can start to think about their own vision for the future. If they feel blindsided by the conversation, they could become overly defensive. Notify siblings and family members that you’re planning a discussion so they don’t feel kept in the dark.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?”
- 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.
- 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.