Tips for Talking About Senior Living Options - Calyx Living
Calyx Living

Tips for Talking about Senior Living

Just starting to talk about senior living options can be an emotional dance fraught with avoidance all around. The mere mention can be taken as a blow to a loved one’s independence and self-reliance causing people to stubbornly dig into outdated perceptions. It can be tricky to convince a loved one to engage on the subject even when research proves that moving to an assisted living community often enhances a person’s overall quality of life. Residents are routinely surprised when they move in and realize that there’s a lot more “good” than the “bad” they expected.

We’ve compiled some tips aimed at helping families open conversations around this transition.

Talk about the future

If you “spring” the idea of an imminent move on a loved one, expect to receive upset, frustrated even angry emotions in return. Consider a longer term approach and start conversations about senior and assisted living options when your parent or loved one is healthy and independent. This allows “the talk” to be an evolution with everyone’s opinions and concerns shared over multiple conversations in an open, non-urgent, no commitment setting. You can state that the topic may be difficult to discuss, but you want to honor your loved one’s wishes. Since no immediate decision is needed, the conversation can be more relaxed as you both prepare for the future.

Explore your options

Senior and assisted living communities are often vibrant, bustling places. There are always things to do, friends to talk with and delicious meals to enjoy. This may be a surprising contrast to what your loved one believes to be true. Talk about options and solutions that could enhance their desired lifestyle. Do they want to remain in their community? Are they comfortable moving closer to a child or potential care provider? Do they want the ability to maintain a small garden, be part of a walking club or attend a painting class? Talking about a desired lifestyle can create space and context for what’s important to them while you also discuss real health concerns, mobility and care needs, medicine management and increased assistance with daily tasks.

Involve your loved one

Everyone wants a voice in their own life, especially where they live and what type of care or assistance they may need. By starting the conversation early, your loved one may be able to tour senior living communities with you. At Calyx Living, we encourage visiting and welcome potential residents and their families to share a meal and participate in an activity or two. This helps loved ones realize that they already have friends living with us or that may be easier than they thought to meet new people.  Seeing a community first hand, participating in a wellness class, having lunch together, engaging with current residents, placing themselves in the environment – all of this can help you and your loved one when it comes time to make a decision.

Compare costs

A loved one may ask if they can have someone come help them a little so they can remain in their own home. While that may be a viable option, needs could quickly change. In fact, the cost of having someone come in to provide needed care plus annual living expenses could be more than considering a community like Calyx Living. Plus, when you live in an assisted living community, there is no more home or yard maintenance, no more plumbers, electricians or roofers. Talk about what your loved one can afford and what services they need or desire. Often, a quality assisted living community can help extend their budget.

Be empathetic

Moving into assisted living is a big transition. It’s important to recognize your loved one’s emotional attachment to a place that’s held years of special memories. Leaving that physical space, while realizing that they need additional care, can be a double hit. If there’s not an urgent need, don’t push the move too hard. Your loved one could become overly defensive or disengage. Gently move the process forward with micro conversations that take your loved one’s feelings, needs and health concerns into account. A good rule is to treat them as you would want to be treated.

Paint a new picture

Talk candidly and honestly about why this transition may be needed and necessary, but do so with a kind, considerate tone. Share concrete examples like an issue managing multiple medications or a real scare from a recent fall. Explain that making the move could actually increase their independence (and keep it for longer). They wouldn’t have to wait on you or another care giver to be available for specific help. Attentive support would be immediately available as part of this new adventure. Care that also involves interesting things to do, new friends and social opportunities, delicious food and options for more activity than they’ve had in a long while.

Our experienced team has helped hundreds of families navigate these difficult conversations. We’re available to help you and welcome your loved one to join us for a meal, activity and tour. Often seeing and talking with our residents is the best way to showcase the benefits of this transition. Contact us to schedule a tour today!