The Talk: 7 Ways to Bring Up The Need for Senior Care

November 12, 2015

Young man talking to a serious woman on a green sofa

Your life matters. Everyone's does. If you are moving someone into senior care, so does theirs. An independent study revealed that 69% of all people will need senior care but only 37% think we will need it.

The first conversation about senior care can make your loved one feel like their life doesn't matter. You know that's not the case. It's just hard to articulate it. You need a way in that makes your parent, relative, or other loved one feel honored and respected. Senior care is sometimes required. When you both can benefit from it, you need to use senior care.

Heritage Creek Assisted Living has put together 7 ways to get the conversation going. We want your loved one to feel honored and want the best to happen. Here's how you start.

How to Start the Conversation about Elder Care

1. Ease into the conversation

No one wants to be blindsided by being told they can't do something. You need to introduce ideas before you even sit down to have the talk. Don't talk about how happy other people are in assisted living. Instead, talk about the things that make you think your loved one would have a better standard of life. Read about the benefits of assisted living and pepper those into the conversation.

Heritage Creek, for example, has a fitness room that is readily accessible at all times. Mention that "it might be nice to be so close to a place with a gym" where you can workout every so often. Gauge the response from your loved one and see what perks up their ears.

Just remember: don't be deceitful. Instead, have a conversation with them about what they'd like from living where they are, and try and find an assisted living facility that matches what they want. It's important to build trust before you have the big talk.

2. Be honest and respectful

When you do have the conversation about assisted living, be truthful about how you feel. If you hide how you feel due to politeness, it will have less of an impact on the other person. The whole conversation could be glossed over if it's too polite. Be real.

Be respectful, too. The person you are trying to persuade to live in assisted living is just that: a person. Don't talk down to them. They are not the problem. The circumstances and the situation are the problems.

Above all, you are doing this to better your loved one's life. It is not about you. Make sure the conversation stays on your loved one and their quality of life. To make them feel respected, you have to make them feel like they have not been a burden.

3. Validate their feelings first

If your loved one starts asking questions, more than anything, make them feel listened to. Because of the difficulty of this conversation, emotions can run hot. It's important to put their emotions high up on the ladder and respect them.

Behind their questions about assisted living are profound emotions. Moving to an assisted living facility is the next step and a lot of uncertainty goes along with it. The benefits for them are waiting on the other side, but you need to support them by acknowledging how they feel and responding to it with love and compassion.

4. Frame the answers to questions about how it will benefit them

Continue being honest about why you think this is best for them. This journey is not about you and you will not be moving. They will.

If you frame it to be about yourself, then it could make your loved one feel bad or guilty about being a burden. If you say, "I need a bit more time to myself," that could kill your loved one's self-esteem. Instead, say something like, "I think this apartment could be something you like because of..." and list the reasons.

5. Be specific about why it's good to move your loved one to a particular senior care place

Give them real benefits, too. Don't speak in generalities about how they'll have a better life with other people. Generalities can ring false and make your loved ones trust you less.

Giving specifics paints a real picture of how this life in senior care could look. The more thorough you paint it, the more vivid and less unknown it seems. This can build a lot of trust and make senior care look like a good idea.

6. Invite them to find the best version of assisted living for them

You are not your loved one. While you might be encouraging them to accept senior care, they are going to have preferences that you might not even think about. Invite them in on the research and see what senior living facilities and amenities they get excited over.

When they find a place that could be beneficial for them, run with it. Take a tour, look at the grounds, and see if it's a fit. If it's not, keep looking. If it is, then ask your loved one how they feel.

7. Make time to create a bond that continues when they live in assisted living

Senior care is the next step, but it doesn't have to be an isolating experience. Make sure that you still stay connected with your loved ones by consistently talking to and visiting them. This conversation was difficult. If you don't follow up and make sure the connection is still there, then it could result in some serious emotions for them.

Instead, make them feel loved and make them feel important. Because they are. And because that's what's senior care is for.

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