Best Ways to Talk to Aging Parents about Senior Living
Do you know how your parents want to live after they’re retired? Are they planning to stay in their home? Are you wondering how they will cope with changes in their health as they age? It may sound counterintuitive, but asking your parents these questions is best done while they’re still healthy and active. Potentially sensitive topics — health concerns, financial affairs, senior living and late-life decisions — can be discussed objectively, where they have control and over a longer time frame.
Getting your parents to think ahead is good for everyone in the family. As you research senior living communities in Charleston, WV, Mom and Dad can consider every angle to ensure no surprises in their future. They can weigh all the pros and cons of senior living and set criteria to move when they’re ready. The i‘s are dotted, the t’s are crossed, and you aren’t responsible for making these decisions on their behalf. We asked Edgewood Summit families how they felt about a parent moving here. Here’s what Dr. Arnold, the son of one our residents, had to say:
“Mom has been at Edgewood Summit almost seven years now. I believe it was one of the best decisions for her to move there after the passing of my Dad. Edgewood has given her a quality of life she would never have had staying alone in her home. She has made many new friends and been involved in many of the social activities offered: cards, golf, bingo, exercise classes, and style shows, to name a few. She stays engaged with what’s happening in the Edgewood Summit community by being on the marketing committee, and she’s actively engaged with all the wonderful staff as well. I’m convinced her moving to Edgewood has increased her longevity and mental acuity.”
Understand what independent living in a senior living community is like, and you’ll help your parents fully imagine the benefits for themselves. Older adults often have misperceptions of senior living based on outdated ideas that they’re boring, dreary places. Spark their interest with the fact that today’s senior living is like a neighborhood with modern and luxurious amenities.
One topic of conversation that is sure to come up is the issue of health and safety during the pandemic. Dr. Arnold expressed his appreciation for the protocols our community put in place to protect residents and staff: “We can all agree that 2020 was a difficult year, but I feel that Edgewood had the best interests of the residents at heart, and made every effort to keep them safe from COVID-19. When the vaccine was made available, they made sure that the residents and caregivers were among the first in Charleston to receive them, and the vaccine was administered at Edgewood.”
Five Ways Senior Living Enhances a Parent’s Retirement
More leisure: Residences in senior living are maintenance-free. This means your parents won’t have to mow the yard, scrub a floor, shovel snow, or get up on a ladder to fix something, ever again. They can focus on themselves for a change, pursue a favorite sport or hobby, spend more time with the grandkids, and enjoy more freedom to travel with their lock-and-leave lifestyle.
Great food: After preparing and cooking hundreds of meals for the family, why not try something different? There’s no need to shop, prep, cook or clean up in a senior living community. Whenever they feel like it, they can walk over to the dining room to indulge in a chef-prepared, restaurant-style meal.
Smart health: Independent living communities invest in keeping their residents fit and healthy longer. Your parents can access an array of healthy lifestyle options to choose from, including well-maintained fitness equipment, professional fitness instructors and personal trainers, wellness counselors, on-site nutritionists, and more.
Interesting neighbors: Maintaining social connections may not be an issue for your parents right now, but the risk of senior isolation increases with age. Community living offers the opportunity to be social without the hassle of driving, arranging transportation or coordinating plans. That said, your parents aren’t obligated to be social butterflies. They’ll continue to live privately, and choose which community events and activities they prefer to be a part of.
Care on campus: Moving in while they’re still fully independent means your parents will get a big kick out of an active, social lifestyle, and better value for their money. With age, they might need a little help maintaining their quality of life — and that’s where a CCRC (continuing care retirement community) such as Edgewood Summit is a great choice. They can have a wonderful lifestyle for today, and a solid plan for future care if they ever need it. Dr. Arnold agrees, and told us: “While Mom is in independent living, I have the peace of mind knowing if the need arises she could seamlessly transition to assisted living, or the Hodges Center for nursing or memory care.”
Get a sense of what your parent is open to talking about by introducing unthreatening yet related topics. It’s better if your parent brings them up first. Try to ask genuinely open-ended questions, and take time to really listen to the answers. Here are some examples:
· How’s the house? What was it like coping with snow and ice during the last winter storm?
· Have you thought about what living here might be like as you get older?
· What kinds of things are you doing to prepare financially for retirement?
· What’s your plan for care if your health ever changes?
You have your parents’ best interests at heart, but it’s likely your parents won’t be receptive to researching senior living communities in Charleston,WV. It’s hard for anyone to accept that eventually we all face potential limitations to our independence. As we age and our physical and/or mental health declines, it’s natural to want to retain control and cling to the areas of life we can still manage. Be prepared to encounter resistance when it comes to discussing the future, stay positive, and continue to guide the conversation.
Absorb the information your parent tells you. But don’t rush into problem-solving right away. As you establish a rapport about the topic you’re concerned about, you can open it up to more questions.
· Is there some way I can help?
· I can see how that’s a problem. What are your thoughts on what to do?
· Let me think about what you told me. How about we talk about this again?
· How about we work on this together next time we see each other?
Ask Thoughtful Questions
Continue to look for openings when you can raise the topics you’re concerned about, but with a focus on finding a solution together. Keep asking open-ended questions to encourage their input, and keep the discussion positive:
· What would it mean to you if you didn’t have to spend money and time on home maintenance?
· How would you like having someone cook meals for you?
· What would be some advantages to moving elsewhere?
· What would be the most difficult thing about having a medical emergency?
· Let’s make a list of what you can do about this.
· Let’s think through the pros and cons of “What would happen if …?”
15 Tips for Talking to Aging Parents
1. Explain why you believe it’s the right time to talk about this sooner rather than later.
2. Set the right tone. Pick a time when everyone is relaxed and more receptive. Engage everyone in the discussion. If your siblings are involved, make sure you present a united front.
3. Actively listen. Set aside your agenda, and really take in your parent’s point of view. Verbally acknowledge what they’re saying. Ask questions that show you respect their wishes.
4. Don’t give advice. Resist the urge to tell them what to do. Instead, turn what you want to say into a question. Planting a suggestion is a more effective strategy.
5. Keep it light. Humor is OK. If you can both laugh about something, it helps you warm to each other’s point of view.
6. Know when to stop. Give everyone time to think about what’s been talked about, and revisit any issues that need more discussion. Unless there’s an urgent need to make a decision, this will probably be a series of conversations.
7. Call a friend. A neutral third-party or an objective family member can share a point of view or experience that’s helpful.
8. Use “I” statements so it’s clear you’re sharing your opinion, rather than talking as if you have a corner on the truth. Try “My perception is,” “In my opinion,” etc. “You” statements usually lead to disagreements.
9. Find common ground. There’s a good chance you and your parents have common goals, just different ways of achieving them.
10. Don’t neglect finances. Touchy issues like wills and power of attorney should be ironed out sooner than later. Remind your parents that getting legal documents done helps everyone get on with the business of living.
11. Talk about yourself. Be honest about how you’d feel if something happened to them and you weren’t able to help. Share how much better it’s been for you to get your own affairs in order.
12. Be topical. Use current events as a springboard for discussion. Did something happen to a friend of theirs? Is there a change to insurance or Medicare to be aware of?
13. Read testimonials. Residents and families who have something to say about independent living in Charleston, WV, can offer valuable insight.
14. Suggest a visit. A tour of a community such as Edgewood Summit will show that senior living in Charleston, WV, offers a remarkable resort-like lifestyle that’s better than they imagine.
15. Let them decide. It’s up to your parents whether or not they’re ready to move out of their home into independent living.
Opting for Senior Living in Charleston, WV. at Edgewood Summit
If your parents seem interested in taking a tour of an independent living community in Charleston, WV, ask them to come and have a look at a community with you. Make sure it’s a place you’ve already screened and you know will appeal to them. You can make this even more collaborative by using our free guide on how to tour a retirement community. Together you can go through the list of topics to ask about while touring and use the suggested starting points for further conversation. You can download it here.
Simply exploring options doesn’t mean you’re making decisions for a parent or forcing them to do something without their consent. By discussing the pros and cons of moving out of their home, you’re preparing to be helpful for the decisions ahead.
We’ll help you show your loved one exciting new opportunities for wellness, socializing and lifelong learning with a move to our community offering independent living in Charleston, WV. Reach out to us to arrange an in-person or virtual tour.