Adjusting to the possibility that it is time to consider senior living options for your loved ones can be difficult. Most seniors feel comfortable and attached to their homes, and the decision to move out and adapt to a new environment can be challenging for them. This is why it’s so important to have a clear communication strategy when talking with your loved ones.
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Senior living is a big decision for both seniors and their families, and it should involve everyone who will be part of the process. Having clear and effective communication practices can make planning for senior living easier and less stressful for both you and your loved ones.
Here are important communication practices you should implement:
Start Small (spread out discussions)
It is not a good idea to ambush your loved one with such a big decision. Start by laying some groundwork with small, laid back conversations in order to assess how they feel about the transition. Starting small will allow you to ease them into making their own choice, rather than pushing them into a decision.
Maintain an Encouraging Tone
Anytime you have this conversation, be encouraging and make it clear that you care about your loved one’s well-being. Senior living options are often misunderstood as neglecting your loved ones or handing over the care to someone else.
In order to ensure your loved one doesn’t feel neglected through these discussions, make it clear that you care for their health and safety, and highlight how this could be a great option for them.
The most important communication practice when discussing senior living is to make it a conversation as opposed to a lecture. Take the time to listen to your loved one’s concerns and any objections that they may have.
Make them feel that they are part of the decision and pay attention to their mood as well. Your loved ones will be more receptive of the conversation if they feel they are active in this process for themselves.
Timing is Everything
Bringing up senior living options at the wrong time is a sure way to create unnecessary tension and stress with your loved one. When choosing a time to have the discussion, make sure your loved one is relaxed and is not preoccupied with any other events that may cause them to feel stressed.
Also, if they are unwilling to discuss the topic at a particular time, don’t force it. Make sure they are in a state of mind where they are open to discussion and are listening keenly to what you have to say. This will allow them to also engage in the conversation and open up to the discussion.
Pay Attention to any Resistance
If your loved ones are resistant to any senior living options, take the time to find out why. It may arise from the uncertainty of how the new experience will be, like financial concerns or a lack of understanding of how the senior living options you present to them will work.
Knowing what is causing them to be resistant will allow you to address those issues specifically and help guide them through a more comfortable decision process.
Communicate with Specifics
Gather as much information as possible about senior living. Consider specific locations, finances, lifestyle options, medical care services and fun activities that your loved ones like to engage in. This will enable you to be more prepared when you engage in the discussion with them. Your loved ones will also appreciate the time you spent looking into their needs and concerns.
If you are able to communicate with your loved ones using specific and detailed information, they will understand the transition process better and feel less anxious about it.
Involve them in Decision Making
As part of the conversation, provide your loved ones with resources that they can use to explore senior living options by themselves. This could be phone numbers of senior living homes, websites that provide information on senior living, or even their friends who have successfully made the transition into senior living themselves.
Giving your loved ones some control over the process makes them more receptive towards the conversation and the transition process.
Plan out a Timeline
Having a timeline for the transition of your loved ones into senior living is a great way of preparing them mentally and physically. You should start senior living discussions early enough when they are still healthy and active in the community. This approach allows them to have the idea already stored in their minds and can feel comfortable to discuss planning once the time is right for them.