You won’t be surprised to learn that many serious family discussions take place around the holiday season, when folks who may not see each other very often are together once again. So what happens when the conversation turns to how Mom and Dad are getting older?
It’s hard to face the fact that the people who raised us may need some extra help taking care of themselves—now or some time in the future. That’s why you need to keep these important DOs and DON’Ts in mind when talking with your parents about these issues.
DON’T put things off
Once aging parents develop a serious health concern, or can no longer make decisions for themselves, it’s much harder to have a conversation about their care needs. Waiting too long could also limit their choice of communities, contract types and cottage or apartment styles. Sometimes a newspaper story, a relative’s illness or a special event at a nearby Life Plan Community (otherwise known as a Continuing Care Retirement Community or CCRC) can be a good opening to start a dialogue.
DO set the stage for a productive dialogue
Jumping into a serious conversation is a recipe for misunderstanding, so try to set up a quiet time to talk. Be sure to plan out your goals and the points you want to make. Above all, let your parents know you want to help them find ways to continue living life according to their wants and needs. This will help them better understand why you’re bringing up sensitive issues like downsizing or moving to a senior living community.
DO respect your parents’ wishes
When talking with your parents about retirement living, remember that they have a right to make their own decisions. At some point, you may need to balance your parents’ independence with their safety, but never take away their sense of control over their own lives.
DON’T make assumptions
Instead, ask your parents how they feel about their health, finances and ability to take care of various responsibilities. Use open-ended questions that keep the dialogue going rather than “yes or no” questions, and make observations instead of offering advice. Also, be an active listener. Turn off your cellphone and give them your undivided attention, so you can tune in to what they are saying.
DO become a trusted source of information
Your parents may not be aware of all the retirement living options available to them. You can play an important role by suggesting things to read or watch online. If you think they could use some expert assistance, you might even help them connect with a professional resource, such as a geriatric care consultant, financial planner or lawyer. Another great resource is the Planning Ahead section of the Blue Skies website.
DON’T let tempers flare
These conversations can get emotional—both for your parents and for you. But it’s best to approach things with an open mind and allow everyone involved to express their opinions calmly. Remember that your parents may be feeling a bit unsure on their end as well.
DO keep the lines of communication open
Your heart may tell you you’re right, and that you know what needs to be done, but your parents may still disagree. Don’t try to argue your way through. Their wishes should prevail unless their health or safety is in question. If the conversation doesn’t go as planned, take a break and agree on a time to talk again.
One final DO: Know the difference between Independent Living and assisted living
Both offer a fulfilling lifestyle and freedom from housekeeping, yardwork and other tedious chores. But there are some key distinctions between the two.
Independent Living gives older adults the opportunity to live on their own while taking advantage of various amenities and community offerings. It’s the right fit for active seniors who want to continue enjoying a vibrant, engaged quality of life. A Life Plan Community like Blue Skies of Texas lets your parents enjoy abundant activities and conveniences, plus the peace of mind that comes with a continuum of care should their health needs change. Best of all, they’ll have time to pursue their interests and passions without the burdens of home ownership and maintenance.
Assisted living, also available at Blue Skies of Texas, is a form of residential living where staff members provide help with the activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing and taking medications. Residents have their own rooms or apartments, while shared resources like dining rooms and activity areas are available for use throughout the day. Most importantly, 24-hour assistance from nurses and caregivers is available on site as well.
Here at Blue Skies, we design our assisted living apartments to help residents live as independently as possible. There’s also flexibility for couples to live together or in close proximity if only one person needs assisted living services. To learn more, view our spacious floor plans.
The good news is that having an open, honest discussion with your parents can help ensure they continue living life the way they choose for as long as possible. And as one of the largest not-for-profit senior living communities in Texas, we’re here to help you and your parents determine the best path forward. As a first step, your parents can evaluate their options by taking our four-minute senior living survey.
Want to learn more about our vibrant, active community with assured future health care? Call 210-677-8666 and our friendly, knowledgeable consultants can answer your questions or schedule a tour.