The first step in exploring options for senior living for a loved one is to get a sense of his or her needs, expectations, and plans for the future.
But sometimes those conversations can be difficult to start. Your loved one might be reluctant to talk about his or her needs and expectations, because he or she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings or burden you.
Asking probing questions will help you determine how your loved one’s needs are currently being met and what his or her hopes and expectations are for the future. That will help you explore and narrow down options for senior living that best meet your loved one’s needs. Here are five questions to ask:
1. What Do You Know About Senior Living?
You might be surprised by how little your loved one knows about senior living. Dating back just 25 to 30 years, senior living as we know it today is a relatively new concept. When your loved one hears “senior living,” he or she might picture the senior care of past generations.
Asking your loved one what he or she knows about senior living is a great place to begin exploring options. You’ll be able to dispel myths and clarify misunderstandings. It’ll also be a great lead-in for you to clearly explain senior living options, including independent senior living, assisted living, memory care, and continuing care retirement communities.
2. How Often Do You Need Help with Daily Activities?
Understanding how frequently your loved one needs help with daily activities will help you understand what options for senior living will best meet his or her needs. However, simply asking your loved one how often he or she needs help will probably trigger a generic, unspecific response.
Instead, have your loved one run through a typical day and take note of each activity of daily living (ADL) that he or she would like help with—not merely those that he or she is currently being helped with. If your loved one doesn’t need much help with ADLs, independent senior living might be the best option. If your loved one needs ongoing help with ADLs, assisted living might be the best choice.
3. Do You Feel Lonely or Isolated?
Feelings of loneliness and isolation are difficult for seniors to discuss, but nearly half of seniors who live alone said they felt lonely on a regular basis in one study. Asking your loved one if he or she has feelings of loneliness and isolation can be a great conversation starter about the social benefits of senior living.
Discussing how your loved one wants to interact with his or her new community and what types of structured social activities and events would appeal to him or her can be a great way to narrow down senior living options. Understanding your loved one’s wishes when it comes to privacy, independence, and socialization will help you find a community that meets his or her expectations.
4. Has Housekeeping Become a Struggle?
Keeping a house and yard is often a source of pride for seniors—but it can grow into a burden and a source of anxiety over time, too. And seniors may be reluctant to discuss these feelings, because they don’t want to burden family caregivers who, they believe, are already “too busy.”
Low-maintenance options for senior living include housekeeping, meal plans, and laundry services. But if your loved one would like to continue gardening or wants to continue using his or her own holiday decorations, however, look for senior living options that will accommodate him or her.
5. How Are You Going to Get Around?
Keeping appointments and getting around can be a challenge for seniors, especially for those who no longer drive. Talking to your loved one about how he or she is going to get around, and if he or she plans to keep on driving, is an important step in exploring senior living options.
Residents of both independent senior living and assisted living communities are able to keep cars if they so choose—but accommodations can be made so that they don’t have to. Assisted living communities typically provide transportation to and from medical appointments, for example.
And exploring centralized options for senior living will enable family members to stop by. It will make it easier for your loved one to engage in local events and community attractions.
What’s the most important thing about senior living options that you’ve asked your loved one?