Once a person identifies the signs that their aging loved one should move because of safety concerns, the next step involves conversing with the person. There is no playbook for such a conversation. Moving is emotional since most love their independence and want to stay home. During the conversation, the aging loved one may display sadness, anger, or even denial. In turn, family members may experience grief, guilt, and stress. The way a person handles the conversation is imperative. Planning is the most important. Navigating the conversation with patience and empathy is significant, including compassion regarding downsizing and moving.
Planning for the conversation
When it comes time to have a conversation about moving, it is essential to have all family decision-makers in the loop. Each family member will be affected, but understanding the need for care should be emphasized. If family conflicts arise, including a third party in the conversation is best.
Planning how to converse with your aging loved one is essential. The conversation needs to happen calmly, rationally, and with empathy. Everyone is different, but calling a family meeting can make the older adult feel “ganged up.” Therefore, you might want to have one family member start the conversation. Most likely, this will not be a one-and-done type of conversation since the older adult may resist change. Therefore, plan on several follow-up conversations with various family members continuing the conversation multiple times. Difficult conversations need patience. Understand your loved one may need time to decide, and that’s okay, so start the conversation early.
What are the topics covered during the conversation?
Address the safety concerns of why moving to a senior residence is essential. Be direct but kind at the same time. Give examples of why you think the person should move. Include concerns about cooking, medication management, mobility, falls, or cognitive problems such as confusion or wandering. The discussion may also include house maintenance, transportation, and shopping concerns.
Moving is a big deal, so include your aging loved one in the decision. Give a sense of being a part of the decisions versus a dictatorship over where they should live. Downsizing often brings feelings of sadness and loss, so empathy is essential. Maintain a level of respect throughout the conversation and make sure to listen to each person’s concerns and responses and address them. Do not talk down to them.
Talk up the senior housing facility. Show the positives of moving and how it can benefit the person.
The place is safe for your loved one, especially with daily check-ins or being available if something arises.
Housekeeping comes weekly.
There are plenty of people around, which addresses any feelings of loneliness.
Various activities help the person feel engaged.
Assure the person that people will visit and they will still participate in family events.
You can choose where to move.
There is a range of senior living communities, from retirement communities to assisted living to nursing homes. Deciding which option fits the needs of your loved one is critical since everyone’s situation is different. Also, understanding the availability, services offered, and costs will affect the decision. Include your aging loved one when touring and discussing options.