Discussing retirement communities, health issues, and long-term care can trigger negative emotions and strain relationships between adult children and their aging parents. Both parties know that aging is a reality, but talking about it requires tact. Our tips for positive communication will help, regardless of the retirement living plans you need to discuss. A calm, well-planned talk will make the transition easier for you and your loved ones.
Break the Discussion into Steps
Don’t wait for a health crisis or other emergency to talk about long-term care. Look for opportunities to have small discussions in everyday life. Ask your loved ones questions about the plans they have considered, where they would like to live, and other details. Talk about retirement living often to keep your information up to date. Have discussions during calm times, not stressful ones like the holidays.
Speak With Respect and Empathy
Adult children want their parents and other loved ones to stay safe. Sometimes, though, that worry comes across as anger. Speak to your loved ones with the respect they deserve. Understand that they feel they are losing their independence and control. Empathize and do not insist that your plans are the only right ones. Give your loved ones ample time to think about options.
Value Their Independence
Many seniors believe that long-term care means an inevitable transition to a nursing home. Assure them that this isn’t the case. You may be able to use in-home care, depending on their independence levels, health, financial status, and other factors. Do what you can to make their home more accessible. Involve your loved ones in the process of vetting caregivers and training them to meet their needs.
Don’t Forget Emotional Needs
Even independent seniors can still feel alone. Help your loved ones maintain an active life and consistent emotional contact. Arrange transportation to favorite activities, and ask which new ones they’d like to pursue. Look for senior get-togethers in your area, perhaps at a community center, library, or a place of worship. Teach your loved ones how to use a cell phone, tablet, or Skype to stay in touch with out-of-town family and friends.