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Getting The Conversation Started About Senior Living

How To Talk To Your Parents About The Future

Talking to an aging parent or family member about getting older and their plans for the future is a task often faced by adult children. We recommend having this conversation before it becomes a necessity – when you do, use these tips from Redstone Village to approach the topic and begin an open dialogue.

Before the conversation

  • Make a list of concerns you have for your parent or family member. For example, you may be worried about their medication management or physical safety at home. Write down everything that concerns you and prepare to guide the conversation with questions that allow them to express their perspective.
  • Plan a time to talk and make them aware of your thoughts ahead of time so they can start to think about their perspective without feeling blindsided by the conversation. Let any siblings and family members know about your planned discussion so they’ll feel included even if unable to be present.
  • Educate yourself on different options in senior living. It’s likely your loved one will have a preconceived notion about “nursing homes” – however, today’s options include everything from independent living and in-home care to assisted living and continuing care communities. As you research, be realistic about the amount of help your loved one actually needs.

During the conversation

  • Try to talk in person if possible and choose a time when you are both well rested and can talk without interruption. You might want to go to a neutral site outside of their home and could also consider involving an outside person close to the family, such as an attorney, physician, minister or friend.
  • Ask questions, choosing words that are supportive and non-confrontational. Be respectful and empathetic to let them know you care about their ideas for their future. Use open-ended questions 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 has it been for you living at home alone?”

  • Hear what they have to say instead of providing a solution. Reassure them that you are their partner in solving a particular need or issue in their life. Remember to use open body language — no crossed arms or hunched shoulders. If the conversation gets heated or overly emotional, stop and pick it up at a later time.

After the conversation

  • Keep talking. As much as you would like to come up with a solution in one conversation, this process may take some time. As long as your loved one isn’t facing an emergent health issue or major safety risk, you should both take the time to make a plan that feels as comfortable as possible for everyone involved.

How To Address This Sensitive Topic

By having these conversations before any serious incidents occur, you can be sure you clearly understand your loved one’s hopes and desires for aging – and can help them navigate any transitions. Contact us if you have additional questions or would like more information about Redstone Village.

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