How to Gently Have “The Talk” With Your Elderly Loved Ones
A Delicate Discussion: Long Term Care Planning With Your Parents
It’s something you never want to think about, but is necessary. Approach the difficult discussion of long term care planning with ease with these tips.
As people age, they may begin to lose the ability to function independently. You may notice falls, forgetfulness, or other signs that living alone poses a risk to them.
Nobody wants to give up their independence, making this a difficult conversation to approach. But, there comes a point where you must bring up long term care planning.
Introducing Long Term Care Planning
Where do you begin to suggest that a loved one gives up their autonomy? Keep reading to learn how to bring up long term senior care with your loved one.
Begin Asking the Right Questions
Rather than jumping into telling your loved one that you feel they need to consider senior care, start asking questions that might bring them to that conclusion. It may feel less jarring of an idea to them if they come to that conclusion.
Ask questions like:
- Do you feel safe at home?
- Do you get lonely?
- Does living alone ever feel overwhelming?
- Can you handle everything on your own?
Do not bombard them with all of these questions at once. Instead, ask one every now and again.
Ask at Appropriate Times
Try not to force these initial questions into conversations. Find appropriate moments to fit them in.
For instance, ask if your mother mentions the difficulty of taking care of the home. Or, ask if your father talks about getting bored doing the same things at home.
Get Friends and Family On Board
Talk this over with siblings and other close family members. Other people to consider include:
- Aunts and uncles
- The person’s close friends
See if they will help you gently plant the seeds of this idea. More people means more power of suggestion.
Talk in Person
If your questions do not seem to push them close enough to the idea of long term senior care, then you may need to say it outright. Do not try to discuss such a sensitive matter over the phone.
Remember, your suggestion included giving up autonomy and possibly even their home and driving privileges. You want to talk about this face to face when you can dedicate a significant amount of time to them.
Some older adults feel like their family wants to abandon them when given this suggestion. In-person, you can better reassure them that you want to be there for them while also making sure that they get extra attention through necessary services.
You might choose to make this a one on one conversation with your loved one, to respect their private feelings they may choose to share. Or, you may feel that this particular person would feel more supported if the entire support group that you recruited discussed this together with them.
Do Not Make It Sound Decided
Avoid approaching this matter as if everybody decided it for them and you are now letting them know. That may make them feel betrayed or like they need to fight for control. Instead, use phrases like “I would like you to consider…” and “We feel like…”
They do not want or need to you feel bad for them. In this instance, sympathy can come off as condescending.
Instead, show empathy. They need you to listen to how they feel and understand those feelings.
Depending on their health and abilities, this might mean different things. Present different options of care offered in communities in your area.
Some senior living facilities offer independent living. This puts them into a private housing arrangement nearby other seniors but keeps certain types of assistance available. This option works best for seniors who can manage most daily tasks on their own and do not require intensive medical care.
You might also present assisted living as an option. This steps up the level of care from independent living, but offers more independence than a nursing home.
Assisted living facilities typically offer private apartments, but keep a 24-hour staff to assist with everything from personal care to daily activities. A person might choose this if they need a lot of help, but do not suffer serious ailments that require the care of a nursing home.
Ask Their Concerns
If your loved one seems hesitant about the idea of long term care, ask them about their concerns. Ask what they will miss about their home and what part of living in a facility does not appeal to them. Learning their drawbacks allows you to find ways to fix them.
Bring Them for a Visit
Schedule a visit to a senior care facility. They may fear to live in one because it feels so unknown to them.
Seeing what it looks like and meeting the staff may make them feel more comfortable about the idea. They might see something that catches their interest and maybe even makes them like the idea.
During the visit, ask for a calendar of events. Typically the facility will offer game musical entertainment, group games, movie nights, and holiday festivities. Go through with them and highlight things they enjoy doing to help them feel excited about the prospect of living there.
Point out all of the perks, like the option to get served meals in a dining room with their peers and somebody helping them with everything they need. This will start to replace their fears and concerns.
Offer Hard Facts
Arm yourself with statistics in case your loved one refuses to consider long term care. They might need to hear the real dangers of living home alone like a senior citizen dies every 19 minutes from fall-related injuries. Bring in evidence that closely relates to them and their situation, not as a scare tactic, but to help them understand why this is important.
Discussing long term care planning is essential when older adults can no longer live alone safely in their own homes. Though the prospect of change may scare them, you can help them find excitement in this opportunity.
We care about our residents and their families. Schedule a visit to on of our communities!