This article is published by Elizabeth Kaydanovsky a Chicagoland-based Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She can be contacted at elizabethleah.com.Are you starting to explore senior living options for a loved one? If this is crossing your mind and you are starting to do research, it’s time to have an open and honest conversation with your elderly mother or father. Change can be scary. There are so many questions, moving parts, emotions, and research involved in making a decision for the future that affects the entire family, and while Senior Living Experts can help find the best place for them, your loved one must be willing to go.Transition can be taxing physically, emotionally and mentally, but the good news is it doesn’t have to be if done right! This requires honest conversations, discussing non-negotiables, research, and manageable action steps with your senior parents.
Honest Communication (AKA the Taboo of Senior Living)
Effective change starts with honest communication, always! So many subjects are taboo or delicate and many avoid bringing them to light with the people that matter most to them.Conversations about assisted living and senior living can be triggering with your elderly mother or father, but again – they don’t have to be. If you create an honest, safe space to talk, your parents will be so much more open to exploring solutions. It requires a partnership, a place where both parties have equal input and most importantly listen to each other. No parent will shun the conversation if you approach them with compassion, care, and genuine love. Be honest with your family member about why you’re considering a senior living community. Ask them to express their feelings, fears, and non-negotiables as you navigate this process.
Your parents are entitled to their list of non-negotiables – in relationships, in work, and definitely in senior care. Their list can start out as long as they want just to get all their thoughts on paper. Then together, you can go through and highlight top priorities. What remains are the non-negotiables. And be open and agile in conversation with your senior – again, listen to them. Their list of non-negotiables may not be what you expect, but you should respect it regardless. Always keep in mind that this is their transition, and they’ve soul-searched for what is most important to them. Now the goal is to take this final list and reference it throughout your research.
Any successful decision requires thorough research. Hard facts make transition much less scary – when you know what to expect, you pop the bubble of the unknown (or at least substantially minimize it). Cross-reference your non-negotiables to what an assisted living community recommended by your Senior Living Expert offers – present facts, numbers, and available amenities to your senior and give them some space and time to think. Look through the website together and get their initial feelings and reaction.The next step is physically exploring the senior living community together. Keep in mind that your family member may change his or her mind once they see it (and that’s okay! There are other options). Know that their thoughts and feelings are valid. This is new, unchartered territory for them, and therefore can create resistance or pause. Change requires baby steps.
Successful change only happens through manageable action – baby steps. Take as small of steps as your elderly parent feels comfortable with. Meet them where they are and guide them at their pace. Do not pressure or delay their timeline – go as fast or slow as your parent, grandparent, or family member needs. Keep in mind that they know themselves and they also do not want to cause you any unnecessary worry or stress – they are doing the best they can. Always assume positive intent as they navigate a decision that will affect the rest of their life, and be a source of strength and support throughout.Transition can be a really positive space to be in – it requires you to get real, honest, and take action towards what you truly want, and your Expert is there to help. To make it seamless, your loved one needs support, understanding, love and actionable steps that feel safe and comfortable – this approach can make it a beautiful experience.