If Mom is living alone in the big family home, you may have lots of concerns—such as isolation, her safety or her ability to maintain the property. Talking about where Mom might want to live as she ages may be awkward or difficult, but it’s important have a conversation about her options while she can contribute her opinions. Some experts recommend following the 70/40 rule: Begin discussing her options when Mom is 70 or older and you are 40 or older.
Here are 6 tips for talking to seniors about the move.
1. Do Your Research
Before you bring up senior living options, research what’s available in Mom’s area—and maybe your own, if you live apart. Get familiar with various aspects of senior living, such as residences, amenities, services and costs. If you bring up the topic of moving without the basic information in hand, it may be hard to answer Mom’s questions.
Practice your conversation with your spouse or siblings, addressing Mom’s possible reactions, and plan your responses. Preparation is key to having a good discussion, especially if you anticipate Mom will be sensitive about discussing the progression of her life.
3. Bring Up Other Subjects First
Try to gauge Mom’s comfort level about moving by initially discussing her health and aging. Ask questions such as, “Have you been to the doctor lately? How have you been feeling?” “Are you able to keep up with all of the housework?” “Have you gotten out to see your friends this week?” These conversations may naturally progress to senior living options, but if she’s reluctant to talk about her ability—or inability—to live on her own, it might be beneficial to ask a third party, such as her doctor, to initiate the conversation.
4. Include Mom in the Decision Making
Always keep in mind that you’re discussing your mother’s life, and approach each conversation respectfully. Ask her what she knows about senior living communities and if she knows others who live there. Ask if she’s thought about options other than the family home. From there, you may be able to talk about what she’d want to do if an illness, injury or other circumstance made it difficult to continue living in her house.
5. Highlight the Positives
Even though her home is familiar, that doesn’t mean your Mom views every aspect in a positive light. She or someone she’s hired is doing the cooking, cleaning, laundry, maintenance and other chores—and this may have become a burden for her. Highlight the fact that senior living communities provide those services, and moving will free up Mom to have more time for the fitness center, spa and meeting new friends.
6. Mention a Friend or Relative
If Mom knows of someone who, because of injury or illness, required additional care and had to make a quick decision about where to live, bring it up. Ask what she might do under similar circumstances, and suggest you visit some senior living communities now to see what they offer.
Remember, the senior living conversation isn’t one and done; it’s ongoing. As you or she have more questions, bring them to the table. Talking about Mom’s options may get easier the more you do it, and having open and honest conversations will help Mom recognize you value her opinion.
Plan a visit to one of the senior living communities that Life Care Services manages. We’ll be happy to show you all that we can offer your Mom!