It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year for a Conversation
As you celebrate the holiday season, you may find yourself with some unhurried time to have important discussions. Make the most of this opportunity to gather insights about your loved ones plans for the future, and where they hope to spend their golden years.
The sooner you talk to your parents or loved ones about their retirement plans and where they plan to live, the better. Partner with your family to arrive at the best choice — before they have to make a move.
How do I prepare for the conversation?
As with any important conversation, it’s important to do your research. Explore the various types of senior housing available today. Make sure you understand the differences between independent living, assisted living, memory care, and a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) or Life Plan Community.
If you have friends with parents in local communities, ask about their experiences. If there’s a place that keeps coming up in conversation as a great choice, you might even want to request more information or go on a tour. Ask questions about amenities, safety and financial considerations.
Understand the risks of seniors living alone. Not only can accidents, especially falls, occur, but loneliness can have significant health impacts. Research shows that loneliness can cause cogitative decline and impair well-being.
How do I begin the conversation?
A great way to talk about living options as we age, is to begin with a question — or several:
- Where do you envision yourself in five years (or 10 years)?
- What do you think it might be like to live in your home if your health begins to decline?
- What plans have you made or what plans would you like to make?
- Do you ever feel lonely in your current living situation?
Really listen. You’ll hear your parents hopes and fears. Try to understand their perspectives. Gently share your own concerns for their health and well-being. Let them know that you want them to be in a place where they can thrive as they age.
Having open conversations as soon as possible will provide your parents the most choices. Unfortunately, many seniors wait until there is a crisis and then their options are limited.
What else should I consider?
A few other tips for having the conversation include:
- Choose a time that seems optimal; you have privacy and no one is rushed.
- Talk in person if possible.
- Understand this will not likely be a one-and-done conversation. You’ll probably need to have a follow-up and likely another. Plan on that in advance.
- Schedule a future time to visit senior living options. This doesn’t mean your parents will live there, but at least they understand what’s available.
- Avoid information overload. Remember, this will likely be an ongoing conversation, so you don’t need to give them a brain dump or a lecture.
- Share some of the benefits you see in a senior living community: maintenance-free lifestyle, medical care readily available, security on site, community activities, wellness classes, etc.
- Remember, where your parents want to live is their choice. Unless they are incapacitated, they have control over their decisions and you should respect that.
- Cover the conversation in love. You want the very best for your family members.
Have a wonderful holiday — and a fruitful conversation with a loved one.