Considering senior living for a loved one is never easy. But with the holidays approaching you may wonder if it would be better to wait, particularly if you’ve been the primary caregiver or the family member in closest proximity to your loved one and thus the messenger. The added pressure of being the one to break the news to everyone else not only about senior living, but the reality that your loved one needs more support than they may realize may seem like too much during this already hectic time of year. However, there are some benefits of talking about senior living with your family now, not to mention the circumstances may be such that it’s not feasible to wait. Either way, it is possible to make the conversation easier. Check out these tips.
Benefits of Talking About Senior Living During the Holidays
According to the AARP’s Caregiving in the U.S. report, one in three caregivers have no help at all in this role. The reason? Often, it’s a variety of circumstances such as geography, financial ability and/or other work and family responsibilities that leave one person more “available” to fulfill the role. But during the holidays, no matter how far-flung, families tend to come together. As such, the benefits of talking about senior living during this time include:
- Family members can see for themselves – Seeing is believing and it’s much easier to convince family members that it’s time for senior living when they can witness the needs and challenges of your loved one firsthand.
- It’s a time of year to reflect – In general, this time of year puts people in a more reflective mood which may make your family members more open to planning for the future where your loved one is concerned.
- Willingness to put family first and shut out the distractions – During the holidays there’s a focus on family and togetherness so if there’s ever a time of year when family members plan to be as distraction-free as possible, this is it. Which makes it ideal to get their attention to discuss senior living.
- A good time to tour communities – It may seem surprising but during the holidays the atmosphere in senior living communities is festive which can ease some of the nerves. There are also plenty of activities going on so you can not only see what daily life is really like but may also be able to participate. Families are often on hand more to visit residents as well giving you an ideal opportunity to get their input, if possible, too. And again, if everyone’s home you’ll all be included!
Now that you know why you should go ahead and talk to your family about senior living during the holidays, here’s how to make it easier.
- Keep focused on the goal – When making big decisions as a family it’s easy to fall into familiar roles and/or let old resentments flare up again. That’s why it’s so important to identify your goals upfront and keep them front and center throughout your discussions.
- Schedule a family meeting – Just because you’re doing this over the holidays doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cognizant of when the best times for discussion might be. Ideally not on Christmas morning or when everyone is prepping for holiday festivities, for example. Of course, given schedules, you may have to make due.
- Write down talking points – If you’ll be leading the discussion, it’s often helpful to write down what you want to get across ahead of time. It makes it easier to stay focused should the discussion become heated or emotional and you won’t forget anything.
- Consider your approach – If your loved one will be part of the discussion, and ideally, they should, if possible, you’ll want to keep the tone casual and positive. Perhaps start by asking questions about their needs and wants for the future. What’s more, make sure to show empathy and patience instead of dictating a plan to everyone. You’ll get further that way!
- Give everyone a voice – Whether it’s different perspectives, ideas you haven’t considered, or simply more objectivity, everyone’s opinion should be heard and respected. Just because you may be closest to the situation doesn’t mean you have all the answers.
- Open the floor – Along the same lines, make sure you give everyone the opportunity to ask questions and share their concerns. This is an opportunity to educate on what senior living is really like today and all the benefits a community can offer your loved one.
- Have a backup plan – If after your best efforts, you and your family can’t agree on senior living, consider enlisting the help of a neutral third party. Consult with a professional like your loved one’s physician, a case manager, social worker, spiritual leader, therapist, or even family friends who may have been in a similar situation.