This post, discussing the feelings a senior loved one may be experiencing when considering a move to senior living, is part of a series exploring the different questions that come up when searching for senior living solutions. Follow along in our “What is Senior Living?” series to learn more about the ins and outs of senior living.
“I promised I would not send him away to a home.”
This phrase is shared often. The narrative around senior care, for some, may be fraught with stories of a past that did not include the types of senior living communities around today. Instead of vibrant living with people who are nearby to help, images of hospitals and isolation may come to mind.
To some— often those who have experienced more recent examples of senior care communities—the decision to move may be approached with feelings of joy and excitement as it can mean leaving behind tedious parts of keeping a home and getting around town. However, some make the move out of necessity for safety or care, rather than a desire for fewer task-related obligations. In these cases, the decision to move may be met with uncertainty, guilt, fear, or sadness.
Allow your loved one to express their feelings regarding a move and listen with understanding. Work on making sure, and communicating, that their expressed wishes are considered in the move and that care needs are addressed. Read on for tips on how to talk to a loved one about moving to senior living.
” My mother moved in a couple of months ago very reluctantly. Now she’s so happy to live at SB. She likes the food. The staff is kind and attentive. The facility is clean and the activities are fun. We are so grateful to have our mother living at Sweetbriar Villa. “—Debbie S., Facebook Recommendation
Feelings About Senior Living
- Excitement— No more dishes! No more yard work! A loved one may be excited at the opportunity to take some tasks off of their plate and enjoy a retirement of choice.
- Sadness— There may be sadness in leaving a family home or moving away from the familiar.
- Guilt— Guilt from feeling like they shouldn’t need to have extra help. Guilt about the cost of care.
- Happiness— Your loved one may feel happy about getting to be around their peers and in an engaging environment.
- Fear— Fear of the unknown or fear of stories that they’ve heard about senior living.
- Anger— Feelings of anger at the situation, or changing care needs.
- Relief— Relief in knowing that medications won’t be missed. Relief in knowing someone is nearby if help is needed.
Talking with a loved one about Senior Living
We’ve seen over and over again how a move to a senior care community can improve a person’s quality-of-life and, thereby, their happiness! Sometimes, however, the move to senior living may be met with some reluctance or uneasiness. The below tips will help ease the process for everyone involved.
- Let your loved one express their feelings. Give your loved one space and opportunity to express their concerns, as well as things they are looking forward to about moving to a senior community. Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand where they are coming from. Don’t argue with their feelings—simply listen.
- Include them in the process. Don’t approach the topic as if things have already been decided for your loved one. No one likes their choices being taken away! Instead, try to include your loved one in the process of determining what to look for and where to find it. (Note: If your loved one is unable to make care decisions, then consider any care documents they may have in place already to help in the decision making process.)
- Be upfront about your concerns. If you are noticing areas of need with your loved one— such as the inability to complete tasks of daily living like medication management or nutrition— then share those concerns with your loved one. Let them know that the conversation is coming from a place of love and for their wellbeing.
- Explore your loved one’s impressions of senior care. As stated above, there are some myths related to senior living that can be dispelled with a conversation, exploring online reviews, and/or visiting a community. Focus on areas where your loved one may benefit the most and things they may find interesting that are not available living alone.
- Visit communities! Tour a few of the communities that you both feel fit the care needs and overall desires your loved one has for a senior care community. Visit during an event, attend an activity, or join the community for a meal to truly experience what life would be like in this new living situation.
- Help the transition. Finally, after choosing a care community your loved one may need your help in transitioning to their new living situation. Spend time with your loved one at the community, ask about events, and talk with staff about ways to help your loved one truly enjoy their new home.
However your loved one is feeling right now, the most important thing is that you give them space to explore those feelings and your understanding. When care needs are urgent, the time to explore such feelings may be limited. Share your concerns for their safety to help them understand that your priority is their health and happiness. Then, focus on helping with creating a smooth transition to a senior care community.