Family Talk: How to Bring Up Senior Living

Family Talk: How to Bring Up Senior Living

July 2, 2021

The transition to a senior living community is a monumental lifestyle shift that can feel daunting. What many may not realize, however, is that when their aging parent or loved one makes the move to the right community, it can be a time of liberation and personal enrichment rather than one of limitations and stagnation. Their new lifestyle can provide them opportunities to pursue passions, find new ones, forge new friendships and learn about themselves. Unfortunately, these things are often absent from the public perception of senior living. For this reason, it can be a difficult subject to broach with family members, especially parents, spouses and siblings. Conversations can be tense and emotional and sometimes even create rifts, which leads some families to put off the conversation until at the expense of their loved one’s safety and quality of life. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to approach these conversations to make them less stressful and more constructive in a way that unifies families rather than dividing them.

It’s important for families to get siblings on the same page about the next steps to help ease the transition and minimize conflict. This can be a sensitive and complicated task, whether due to volatile relationships, geographical distance, differing opinions or varying relationships or facetime with the person. Oftentimes, one sibling winds up becoming the effective caregiver for the person – generally the one that lives nearest or spends the most time with them. They are often the person who first realizes the need for a lifestyle transition, and this can be difficult to communicate to siblings who are less involved, live farther away are less likely to perceive or understand the need.

The caregiver should call a family meeting to address the topic and prepare by gathering anecdotes or evidence to support the proposition. Sometimes, it can be as simple as a heart-to-heart, but many are not so fortunate. If things get heated and anecdotal evidence isn’t enough, it can be useful to involve an objective third party such as a geriatric care manager. This person’s role is to use their education and experience in aging services to assess a senior’s individual situation and guide them and their family to the best outcome. They are generally social workers or licensed nurses who have no allegiance to senior care organizations and whose job it is to provide ideal outcomes rather than to promote one single solution. This can help the caregiver sibling credibility if their family member does indeed need a new situation, or conversely, it can reveal that the next step is not necessary at the current juncture. This way, each party has is motivated to participate on the process.

Once the siblings are unified in the best next steps for their parent or loved one, it becomes much easier to discuss it and rally for the healthiest, safest and happiest next chapter for them.

If you have questions about discussing senior living options with your family, contact CRISTA Senior Living today.