Last year, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. At first, our whole family chipped in to help, and we were able to work together as a team to provide care for him. Now, as things settle down and in to a routine, my siblings come around less and I’m mostly left to take care of my dad alone.
My mom tries to help, but she is overwhelmed, too. I’m afraid to talk to them about a senior living community. I don’t want to stress them out more. What should I do?
Carrie from Saline, MI
How to Initiate a Conversation about Senior Living with a Loved One
It sounds like you are doing a great job caring for your dad! But there are many senior care options for you and your family to consider. It sounds like, as you said, the right option might be helping your parents transition to a senior living community. Beginning that conversation can be difficult for both the adult child and their older loved one.
Here are 5 pointers to help you:
A good way for you to start the conversation is actually to just listen. Ask your parents what they like about living in their home. Use these points to make the transition more positive, and redirect the notion that they are losing an aspect of their life. In addition, ask them about their opinions or knowledge of senior communities. By doing your own research first, you can immediately address any misconceptions they have.
- Use positive language
If you want to paint a positive picture, use positive language. Be sure to use the word “community” and never “home” or “facility.” Talk about the opportunities they’ll have and the many ways this community will make their lives easier and more fun!
- It’s not all sewing and bingo
There are so many activities in a senior living community. From social gatherings to special outings, your senior loved ones will have something to do any time they want. And surrounded by their peers, they’ll be making new friends and might even try something they never knew about before. Most seniors actually say they wish they’d made this transition sooner!
- Keep the door open
Seniors often feel stress about this transition and are fearful that they will lose their independence. Let your senior loved ones know they don’t have to decide today—it can be an ongoing discussion. Reassure them that they will have a say. But it’s also important to remember that diseases do progress, sometimes rapidly. The conversation you were having a couple months ago will likely change as your parents age. Even if they don’t like the sound of a senior living community at first, it doesn’t mean they didn’t hear the positives. Revisiting the conversation can be helpful.
- Test the waters
Finally, it never hurts to take a tour of a nearby community. This is your opportunity to talk to staff and residents and to take an in-depth look at the daily details of living in a senior community. You can also let your loved ones know about short-term stays so that they can give it a try without committing!
As a bonus, May is National Parkinson’s Month, so there may even be events especially for seniors like your father. Check out the events at a Heritage Senior Community near you, and contact them for more information.