Winter 2018–2019

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A Better Conversation About Senior Living

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It’s not only your home, it’s a life stage celebration, too!

When it comes to retirement older adults are excited to talk about their plans. They openly discuss where they want to travel or the hobby they want to take up again and whether they’ll “snowbird” in Florida or Arizona. But when it comes to researching Senior Living communities … crickets.

Here’s a creative way to start the conversation and keep the discussions going.

The Time to Talk Was Yesterday

The mistake many adult children make is thinking their parents are too young to begin thinking about, let alone talking about, Senior Living. “They won't need that for years,” they think. Then, before they know it, those “years” have come and gone, and no plan is in place.

As eldercare specialist and author Stella Henry, R.N. explains in her book The Eldercare Handbook, when it comes time to make decisions about a loved one’s future “95 percent of families are in a state of crisis.” The only way to change this “crisis-driven mindset” is to lay a groundwork for open communication as early as possible.

How do you engage an aging parent in a conversation that needs to take place, but comes with an entire set of taboos? A great way to start is to bring up the growing popularity of age-restricted neighborhoods.

Where the Only Obligation is FUN

Activity- and longevity-based 55-plus communities are finding the strongest footholds among today’s seniors. They’re designed to appeal less to age and more to an active lifestyle. They cater to the growing baby boomer population who are looking for something beyond traditional retirement housing. They offer amenities like fitness centers, community centers, planned activities, classes, and events, plus pickleball courts, swimming pools for the grandkids, and a very social atmosphere.

As the senior population continues to mature, so are these specialized communities. They are offering an all-inclusive lifestyle. One of the more recent additions to these types of communities is either on-site or in-close-proximity health care and medical services. The newer ones offer some sort of dine-in food service as well. (Starting to sound familiar?)

All this leads to the perfect segue. The residents in these communities become acclimated and used to the all-inclusive, maintenance-free lifestyle. So, when it becomes necessary to move to a higher level of long-term care, the transition is much smoother because the concept is familiar.

Early and Often Is the Key

The goal with any difficult aging-related discussion is to avoid the need to make spur-of-the-moment decisions. By finding ways to engage your parents in conversations in a casual and fun way, they’ll be more open to talking. When you help them feel more in control they will be less likely to resist decisions they were involved in making themselves.