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Talk Sooner Than Later: Conversation With An Aging Loved One About Senior Facilities
By Lori Solomon, MHA,CRCFEA, President & Founder, Accent on Seniors Inc., A FREE State licensed senior living referral placement service.
It’s easy to put off conversing with an elderly loved one, about what may be perceived as a tender subject … living in a retirement or long term care residence, if home should not be an option. Keep in mind that 10% of Americans age 65-74 require assistance, climbing to nearly 50% in the age 85+ bracket.
There are a number of signals that will clue you in that a senior is starting to have issues. Increasing medical needs, depression, lack of social contact, falls, poor nutrition, declining cognitive abilities, medication errors, missed doctor appointment, or household management difficulties could be tip offs. Is their home untidy, are the bills being paid?
Having knowledge will help you to discuss the types of places available in the community. Many families scatter geographically and elders might have to be helped from afar. By planning ahead, you can evaluate the choices and find out what the senior actually wants, without having to make decisions for them under pressure if there should be a crisis. Take the initiative, use a relaxed, positive approach and plan ahead with what you will say and know what you are hoping to accomplish. Choose an opportune time and place. When appropriate, opt for the team approach, have the family pitch in. Be forgiving of a sibling who “can’t handle the pressure of elder planning. Accept their limitations and move forward!
Ask permission of the senior to have the conversation, perhaps as a favor to you. Be prepared and anticipate the possible reactions. If the senior has normal cognitive function and can make their own decisions, be careful not to threaten their independence. Listen and acknowledge their viewpoints! You may find that the senior may embrace the opportunity to move to a senior residence and will be relieved with the frankness of the conversation. On the other hand, if faced with resistance, back off and then revisit the topic over time, letting the senior know you have their best interest in mind. Or perhaps ask a neutral third party respected by them, such as their physician or clergy person to initiate dialogue.
Seniors today can chose among a wide range of living options with various levels of social and healthcare support. Keep in mind that seniors can live life to the fullest, vital and productive or have their care needs met and maintain their respect and dignity in a senior residence.
Lori Solomon, MHA,CRCFEA, President & Founder of Accent on Seniors, a FREE California state licensed senior referral placement service provides information about senior facilities throughout California. Toll free: 888-954-6637; www.accentonseniors.com
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