Discussing Senior Living with a Loved One


Senior living guide: discussing senior living with your parents or a loved one

Tips for a smooth transition
Transitioning from living alone, or living with a family member, to living in a community
designed for seniors is a big lifestyle change. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can
work with your loved one to help them feel more comfortable, and even excited, about
the change.

Make them part of the decision-making process
It’s rarely a good idea to spring a decision like this on someone. Your loved one is far
more likely to respond favorably if they are involved in the actual process of deciding
where to go. This doesn’t mean you have to leave everything up to them, but since
they are the one who will be living in the community, it’s a good idea to offer some
choices and let them make a guided decision.
By preparing, you’ll feel more confident and will be better able to present the reasons
you feel it is important to consider this next step in life. You may even want to write an
outline of what you want to discuss. Bring up the concerns over your loved one’s health
and safety, and then present solutions. It is important to make sure your loved one feels
heard during these conversations, and that you take the time to understand their point
of view.
You may also find you need to explain to family members why you feel this is the best
option. Your family may have some guilt or fear over not being able to help out more,
which will need to be eased.

Present the benefits

There are many benefits to living in a seniors’ residence, and these should be first and
foremost in your presentation. When you talk to your parent, or another senior, about the
idea of moving to a community make sure you give them all the highlights first.
A few benefits might include:
• Opportunities to socialize without having to drive anywhere
• Favourite activities available
• Medical care when needed
• No need to cook
• No home-maintenance responsibilities
• Private dining or event room available for hosting family gatherings
Tailor this specifically to the interests of your loved one. Playing golf isn’t an incentive if
your loved one doesn’t enjoy outdoor sports, but a knitting club might be something that
sparks their interest. If there is something specific your loved one is worried about giving
up, such as the ability to cook, a compromise may be available. You could look for
residences that have in-suite kitchens, for example, or one that has a demonstration/craft
kitchen they could use occasionally. Many residences are happy to try and accommodate
residents wherever possible.

Bring support
When you’re talking to an elderly family member about possibly moving into a retirement
community, keep in mind that it may be easier if you have someone else there. A little
backup is always a good idea, but be careful that you don’t make your loved one feel
overwhelmed or pushed into making a choice. This is something that has to work for
everyone, and a little support on your side, particularly if you know your loved one will
react strongly, will help. This decision is something that can be very difficult to process,
and it’s not uncommon for family members to protest, even those who are not actually
involved in the process. Listen to your loved one and be open to their opinions. Have an
open discussion and come together for the best possible solution. Be thoughtful of your
timing when talking to your family. Choose a time when everyone is calm and relaxed and
avoid bringing this up during a stressful time.

Give them time to consider
This isn’t a last minute kind of decision to make. Once you have presented the options to
your family member, you need to let them think about it. You may want to provide further
reading material and then let them consider their options.
It is very important not to force anyone in this situation. That won’t end well for any of the
involved parties and can cause a lot of resentment. It’s best to work slowly and help
everyone understand that community living is the best option at this point in time. You
may eventually need to discuss the situation with a doctor to help convince your loved
ones that this is the best decision.
Don’t forget to mention that most retirement residences will be open to a trial stay. Your
loved one may find comfort in knowing a trial is an option, which may make things easier.

Take an in-person or virtual tour

You can’t decide whether or not to live somewhere without seeing it first. Photos
may give you a good idea of what the space is like, but there’s no substitute for
actually touring the space. Any retirement residence should be happy to give you an
in-person or virtual tour.
On your tour, note how easy it is to access the social areas and watch for how the
staff behave. Check if they are friendly and helpful, and get a general feel for the
residence. You can even talk to some of the residents and see how they feel about
living there.
Ideally, you’ll find the residence comfortable and friendly, with enough staff to tend
to everyone’s needs. It should feel like somewhere you want to live. It may be helpful
to share a meal with the residents, to get a feel for the food and how everyone
interacts. This is also a good time to ask others what they like about the residence.
Check in from time to time
Make sure to call or check in personally from time to time. You should talk to your
loved one, as well as staff, to find out how things are going and to make sure their
needs are being met.
Take trips or outings
No matter how lovely the residence, there will be times when your loved one may
want to leave for a bit. In some places, transport to a nearby town may be provided
on a regular basis, but if not, plan to pick them up and take them somewhere. A trip
to the lake, or even a playground to watch their grandchildren playing, can be a
welcome change from the community space.
It’s especially important to take outings during holidays. Celebrating Thanksgiving
with the family can be uplifting and help a resident feel more involved. Doing some
early holiday shopping may also help them feel more connected to the rest of the
family, easing the transition.

What’s next?

Once everything has been set up and you’ve helped your loved one settle in, what
should you expect in the coming months and years? The first thing that needs to be
addressed is the cost.
You’ll need to budget for the ongoing cost of the senior living community. How will the
expenses be paid for? Family members may chip in, but in many cases, residents pay
for senior living by combining retirement funds or pensions with savings and money
from the sale of assets. Keep in mind that monthly fees will cover meals, outings,
utilities, and home maintenance, so moving to a retirement residence could actually
help them save on their current living expenses.
A solid budget will help you plan out the next several years of your loved one’s life at
the senior living community. Don’t forget to add in the natural increase in the cost of
living over time.

Collaborate with senior living staff
The staff and administration of the senior living community are your allies when it
comes to ensuring your loved one has excellent care. You will be talking to them
frequently, particularly early on. It takes some time for new residents to settle in and
the staff will need to get to know them and understand their likes and dislikes. It takes
time to get used to a new place and the staff will be an integral part of helping your
loved one get settled and feel comfortable. Feel free to talk openly with the staff and
ask them questions. You need to make sure that there is always open communication,
and that staff understands they can contact you whenever needed.
Now that you’ve settled your loved one into their new home and everyone is
embracing the new way of living, you should continue to visit and ensure that
everything is going well. If all works out, you’ll find that your loved one is a proud and
happy resident of their senior living residence.

How can we help you?
If you’d like more information, or just to discuss some of your options, we’d be
happy to help you in any way we can. Please call us toll-free 1-866-959-4848 or
email [email protected]


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