Sometimes getting everyone in your family on the same page can be tricky. When it’s a conversation about senior living for your parents, emotions often make it difficult to agree on anything. But with a little pre-planning, it can be easier to discuss the topic and arrive at a plan that everyone can embrace.
Productive & positive: a conversation about senior living
Begin on common ground.
You and your siblings all love your parents. You all want the best for them. Think beyond old grudges or issues from the past. Ask everyone to try and focus on the wellbeing of your parent or parents and let other issues stay in the past.
That can be hard to do when you have been the one who has been chiefly caring for your parent. It also can be difficult for a younger sibling to accept how a parent has changed due to aging. Bring these feelings out in the open and talk them through.
Be ready to share information.
You don’t have to have all the answers in your first conversation about senior living. But it would be helpful to have done your homework on lifestyle options, such as independent living, assisted living, and memory care that you can share what’s included. Being able to educate your family on the many advantages of life in a senior living community will go a long way towards gaining a consensus.
Remember, you’re not just suggesting Mom or Dad live somewhere else. You’re advocating for a lifestyle that keeps them safe, promotes healthy aging, offers new opportunities for socialization, lifelong learning, nutrition and wellness, and freedom from everyday worries.
Everyone’s opinions matter.
Make it clear that everyone will have an opportunity to express their opinions and feelings before any decision is made. Consider the first conversation or meeting as an opportunity for everyone to air their thoughts, before attempting to develop a plan.
Download our free guide, Choosing the Right Senior Living Community.
Ask for personal experiences.
You might have a very different view of your parents’ needs than your sister or brother does. Let them share their views and ask them to explain why they feel that way. For example, Dad might seem fine when he’s visiting your brother’s house. But around you, he’s been showing signs of confusion and agitation. Family dynamics are different; this is the time to get the whole picture.
Prove the need for care.
Sometimes an out-of-town sibling, or one who simply has not been present, might raise questions about whether supportive care is really needed for a parent. This is the time to produce medical records, hospitalization visits, a list of medications, and any other paperwork that can back up the need for additional care and attention.
Schedule a second conversation about senior living before talking to parents.
Your first chat or meeting with other family members is bound to bring up lots of emotions. It might take some of your siblings a while to process what the future will look like. If that is the case, suggest that everyone do some serious thinking about what has been bought up and schedule a follow-up conversation about senior living. Assign some tasks if possible.
Examples could be asking one person to call a few senior living communities for information, while another checks out community websites and prints some information to share. Ask someone to research the possibility of contacting an elder law attorney or senior living expert to see if they could meet with you and your family.
If your siblings live out of town:
Keep their time zone in mind when you schedule a call or video chat and try to make it a convenient time when no one is rushed or has a pending appointment.
Remember that they may not realize how your parents have changed. Your loved one might be saying they are fine, and that’s all your sibling knows. Be patient as you bring them up to date on care needs that need to be met.
Understand that a sibling who has been living out of town most likely is carrying some guilt about not being present physically. Reassure them that the goal of the meeting or conversation is to find the right option for your parents, so that everyone can get back to just being a son or daughter again.
Communication is key.
Many times, siblings and family members are resistant to having a conversation about senior living because they are unaware of the many exceptional options that exist today. As you think about the topics you want to cover, be sure to communicate how making the right choice could enhance your loved one’s life in countless ways.
At St. Mark Village, we believe wellness is a lifestyle—and we are here to help your loved one make the most of it! We invite you to learn more.