Living options for aging adults is not an easy topic to introduce. Telling a loved one about the need for even starting to research one’s next living options can be a frustrating and hurtful situation if not handled appropriately. There are some aspects of this discussion you need to prepare for and things that you definitely should avoid to make the whole discussion as smooth and pleasant as possible.
Before the Talk
Do some basic research before bringing it up. Search for different options like home care, assisted living or a senior community. Knowing what’s available will make it easier to negotiate and meet each other middle way.
Do it early. When exactly will be defined by your situations and parameters. But waiting for the last minute will only make things worse. It might take up to a year to finally move, so planning ahead is key. It is also crucial that your senior relative doesn’t feel that they need to hurry. They must feel comfortable and have ample time to prepare for this transition.
Do keep it personal. There’s no need to tell everyone about it. The fewer people know about it the better. Respect their need for privacy, they’re in a vulnerable situation.
Bringing It Up
Timing is key. Choose a time they are rested and in a good mood. Preferably, alone as well. Don’t be too serious, a more casual tone will make the process less stressful for both of you.
Once you’ve made your proposition, (because that’s what is should be a recommendation not an order) wait for their initial response.
Be prepared. Their reaction is unpredictable, they might shout at you, cry, say nothing, walk away. At this point you need to be supportive, respectful and calming.
Empathize. Get in their shoes, they might feel like a burden or trouble for the family. Their pride is hurt so be encouraging and supportive. Explain how this is about their safety and life quality enhancement and not about you getting rid of the responsibility to take care of them.
Emphasize the positives. All they can think of are all the unpleasant half-truths they know about nursing homes. Prove them wrong, highlight all the advantages and new potential such an option provides. Make them see how what they have to gain outweighs any possible downside.
Be patient. They will be stubborn or even relentless. Respect their need for thinking it over. Don’t expect to solve the issue over one discussion.
Just listen. Don’t be authoritative.Give them space and time to voice their concerns and fears. The possibility of moving to a nursing home is daunting, make them feel they’re supported and listened to throughout this process.
No matter their emotional reactions you shouldn’t get angry at them. They’ve got every right to feel frustrated, terrified and perhaps even disappointed.This is a time you need to show affection and comfort. Don’t be rude or disrespectful. Make them see this is a sign of caring not ungratefulness.
Don’t be judgmental and selfish. Make an effort to realize how inconvenient and unpleasant this situation is for them. Don’t demand or prescribe, recommend, share and make them see what you see.
Discussing elderly living options is not something to take lightheartedly. Prepare accordingly so that you spare yourselves unpredictable and unpleasant situations. Often suggesting to visit a few senior living facilities will make things much more realistic and help them make the decision.