When and how do I talk to a parent about senior living?

This post, discussing when and how to talk to a senior loved one about moving 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.

When and how do I talk to my parent about senior living?

Many of those visiting our community are doing so in times of great need, when an incident has happened that has made it clear that mom or dad need help caring for themselves. Of course, we all want to try to avoid health incidents, such as falls or hospitalizations due to a lack of attention to activities of daily living (medication usage, hygiene, attention to diet, etc.) when possible. This desire is one reason why two of the most frequently asked questions about senior living surround when it is time to talk to a parent about moving, and how to do so.

When to talk to a senior loved one about senior living?

Talking about your loved one’s wishes and care needs often, and before it is necessary, is highly suggested. Sometimes, however, you notice care needs before the topic of senior living has been approached. In that case, approaching the topic of senior living to a loved one is easier when done so with love, understanding, and good intentions.

Signs to look for that indicate it may be time to move to senior living

The following signs are often indicators that mom or dad may need help with some activities of daily living, or could use the engagement of a senior care community. They do not include all indicators.

  • Pill bottles are fuller or emptier than they should be. Check the date the pill bottle was issued and the prescription to estimate.
  • Weight loss or gain. A significant change in weight should be addressed by a health professional. It could indicate a medical need, depression, or lack of attention to diet.
  • Changes in appearance or body odor. A change in personal hygiene and attention to appearance may be indicators that your loved one is struggling with the activities of daily living.
  • Home maintenance or cleanliness has declined. When mom or dad can no longer keep their home maintenance to the standard they have in the past, it can indicate that the workload is too much for them and that they may benefit from extra help in this area.
  • Worsening chronic health conditions. Some health conditions are considered progressive diseases such as dementia or COPD. A diagnosis of a progressive disease may be a good time to consider senior living options, and a move may be in the near future if those conditions are worsening.
  • Mail piling up or bills going unpaid. If you visit your loved one and see large piles of mail, personal mail not being opened, or past-due notices, your loved one may be struggling to complete daily tasks.
  • Decrease in engagement. If your loved one is no longer engaging with people in their life, not leaving the home for days at a time, or spending days sleeping or watching TV, it may be an indicator that your loved one could benefit from more accessible engagement opportunities or care attention.

Read more about the signs it is time to move to senior living:

How to talk to a loved one about senior living?

Each person’s situation is going to be different and you’ll want to approach your loved one in a way that best fits with your personal relationship. However, there are some general truths to approaching this topic that are helpful to keep in mind.

Ways to talk to a parent about senior living

  • Come from a place of love. Be sensitive to your loved one’s feelings. It may be difficult for a loved one to think of leaving a home that they’ve lived in for years. Confronting failing health may be scary to them. Express your understanding of the difficulty of the conversation.
  • Ask questions about your loved one’s wishes. Make this conversation about what they see for themselves. Ask specific questions about how your loved one wishes to approach things if they cannot make care decisions for themselves someday.
  • Be honest about your concerns. If you are seeing some of the above signs, be honest about those worries with your loved one. It will help your loved one understand that the conversation you are having is about them and their safety.
  • Talk to your senior loved one about their impressions of senior care. Often the idea of senior care is met with fear of the unknown or fear of a conceived idea of what senior care communities are. Discuss how senior care communities have staff available 24-7 in case they are needed, but they will still be able to live a life of choice and dignity.
  • Visit a community. One of the best ways to engage your loved one in a fruitful conversation about senior care needs is to visit a community after your initial discussions. Participate in activities, tour the campus, and talk to other residents.

Read more about talking to a loved one about senior care:

Have you had this conversation with a parent or loved one? What tips do you have for others searching for how to discuss this topic with their loved one? Answer in the comment section below!

Connect with a Radiant Senior Living community near you and learn more about how senior care can help benefit the life of your loved one.

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