In stark contrast to the adult children who jump to solve parental concerns noticed during the holidays are the family members who observe the progression of aging over time. While a recent severe decline may be unnerving, these children tend to begin planning rather than panic. Their inquiry is a breath of fresh air to all senior living counselors.
PLANNING FOR TRANSITIONS
Since these children are not driven to implement an immediate solution, this affords counselors full opportunity to educate them about senior living and the application and move-in process. The sales team has time to encourage and coach family members as to how to best journey with their parents through this life-changing decision. Points of information may include:
- Unique values of your community
- Amenities, services or accommodations (including levels of service such as IL, AL, SNF, MC) that directly address mom and dad’s needs OR concerns expressed by son or daughter
- Advantages of living in a senior community rather than providing in-home care
- Typical wait times for particular accommodations
- Typical process to move forward; next step scenarios
- How to encourage mom and/or dad to become wise decision-makers for their future.
If the sons/daughters plan to be actively engaged with their parent(s) in moving forward in this process, I often recommend that they read the book How to Say It To Seniors by David Solie; Download a pdf of the book review. The author effectively portrays the myriad of factors that cause seniors to delay making decisions as well as actions and word-choices that restore to them a feeling of empowerment, allowing them to make thoughtful decisions.
MOVEMENT TOWARD A MOVE-IN
The goal is to create a workable plan that helps the children engage mom or dad in the process, hopefully moving the parents toward their own personal ownership and acceptance of a move. Next steps should include arranging mom’s/dad’s visit to the community, to share a meal with current residents and experience fellowship. In a visit that includes a tour and time with a sales counselor, the counselor can perform discovery to assess if an in-depth physical is necessary. Many of the points of information covered above should also be shared with the parent if they were not present during the initial inquiry. Be certain that all parties understand a realistic time frame for moving to the type of accommodation requested. As always, be on the ready for traditional obstacles, such as “I’m not ready yet. ”Anticipate those obstacles, hear them, repeat them, and address each one. I often ask, “Can you describe to me what ‘being ready’ looks like? ”Or, “How do you see things changing while you choose to remain at home? ”If mom and/or dad is ready but you do not have a residence available, be sure to plan a follow-up action to increase interest in waiting for an opening. Schedule a time for another visit, an involvement in a campus activity, a guest day to the spa or any other type of engagement.
Hopefully, we all experience that spike of calls and visits after the holidays. Be ready for both the planners and the children in an all-out panic. We are blessed to serve in occupations that allow us to offer options that enrich the lives of those we serve – both residents and the sons and daughters who want the best situation possible for their loved ones.
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