Watching an older loved one slowly lose their ability to perform daily tasks and live independently can be difficult for families. Over time, it may get to the point where the older person will need to be moved into assisted living, memory care, or a skilled nursing facility within a senior living community to maintain an optimal quality of life.
Finding the most suitable senior living community can be challenging enough. An even more difficult task is convincing your older loved one that moving into a community is the best move for their long-term well-being.
You might be met with resistance because nobody enjoys the thought of losing their independence, especially if it involves leaving a home they’ve lived in for decades and getting help for tasks they’ve been able to manage almost their entire life. However, healthy, positive discussions about your concerns for their health, safety, and well-being early on in the process can help the older adult to be more open to the idea of moving to a senior living community.
It’s an emotional topic for everyone involved. Here are seven tips that may help move the discussions forward in a progressive, supportive, and more informed manner:
1. Research about senior living communities
When you start the conversation about assisted living, your loved one might have a lot of questions. Be prepared by conducting online research, so your discussion is as productive as possible. Online research can also kickstart the topic by sending them an authoritative article on the benefits of assisted living and letting them know that you’d like to discuss it. Above all, consistently show that you’re considering their needs and not just taking everything over.
2. Be honest and open
An older person might not recognize that they need help. If you have concerns about their health and safety while they live alone, tell them. For example, are they forgetting to take medications? Is their living space unusually unkempt? Perhaps there’s been a noticeable change in their weight or personal hygiene. Gently bring these concerns into the conversation in a calm, supportive way without judgment.
3. Keep their needs and well-being in the spotlight
The conversation should always be centered around their health needs and safety, not about what’s easier for you and your family. Ask about what’s most important to them to maintain an optimal quality of life, including healthcare and social needs. You can then discuss how senior living communities can help them thrive while having their necessities looked after. Advisors such as Assisted Living Locators can help match older adults with the perfect senior living community in your area.
4. Provide choices without making decisions
You might feel as if you’re helping by taking the lead and making all the decisions for your older loved one. As well-intentioned as your actions might be, the person will still want to make decisions for themselves to retain their independence. Be sure to present the older person with the available choices about their senior planning and include them in every decision to keep them engaged, interested, and open to new ideas.
5. Be realistic about finances
Outside of the emotional aspects of the discussion, finances is always a tricky topic for some families. Depending on the level of care your loved one needs, senior community living can be expensive. Many options, such as long-term care insurance, will help pay for care down the road while preserving as much of the older adult’s wealth as possible. Talk to an advisor such as Assisted Living Locators to help you identify ways you can fund senior care.
6. Don’t rush them into making a decision
In all likelihood, your loved one won’t be making a decision within the first few conversations. Give them time to absorb things. Being impatient or frustrated if the older adult has trouble deciding about moving into senior care right away will minimize the chances of having future productive conversations. In addition, keep in mind that they might also be confused, forgetful, or indecisive due to the physical and mental changes that naturally occur as one ages. Let the decision-making happen at their pace so they feel in control throughout the process.
7. Put yourself in their shoes
During hard conversations, it always helps to show empathy by imagining yourself in their position. How would you feel if you were starting to lose your independence or facing health issues? Have compassion with your older loved ones as they realize that they might need help to maintain a good quality of life, and always let them know that you’re in their corner.
Once the older person is ready to move to a senior living community, let them be as involved as possible with decision-making. For example, they might have decades of possessions that will need to be donated, sold, given away, or disposed of, so allow the older adult to decide what to do with them. Older adults can also be involved in the loading and unloading process during the move, which allows them to maintain a sense of control that will make the transition easier for everyone involved.
Help with finding senior care communities in Portland, Maine
Whether you’re looking for independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, or another level of care, finding the best fit senior care community for your elderly loved one can be a daunting, frustrating experience. With so many options available, making an informed choice with confidence can seem like an almost impossible task.
When you need assistance finding the right assisted living community in Southern Maine, call Assisted Living Locators of Portland, Maine. Our team specializes in connecting older adults and their families with senior care options that best suit their needs and budget while preserving the best quality of life possible. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help. We look forward to hearing from you!