Let’s review what motivates a spike in senior living inquiries directly after the holidays: Either an adult son or adult daughter, perhaps both, visited Mom or Dad, only to be shocked when confronted by the poor level of functioning observed. This is not the situation anyone desires for beloved parents. The reaction to this typically falls into one of two categories – (1) panic and the desire to seek an immediate solution to their problems, or (2) proactive concern and the desire to set in motion a plan that will solve the problem at hand and provide a long-term solution to today’s issues and those to come. Each of these responses may land the adult child on our phone line or on our doorstep, but each should be handled differently.
ADULT CHILD IN PANIC MODE
For some, the realization that a parent has aged is astonishing. If they have failed to acknowledge a decline in their parents prior to this visit, the realization plagues them both emotionally and pragmatically, and they are often saddened and overwhelmed. Sometime these feelings cause them to overestimate the severity of the situation. To an even greater extent, it may make their plan for remediation more complex than necessary, or create an expectation of immediacy that may be difficult to meet.
So, the call or visit goes … ”My mom and dad are living in their own home, and it’s just not going well. I came home for the holidays and the house is a mess, mom has lost 10 pounds and dad can hardly get up and down the steps to get into the house. I would like to come and see what apartments you might have available.For their age, they are in pretty good shape. They just need somewhere that is more senior friendly with someone to check on them and decent meals. What do you have? I’m from out of state and need to take care of this before I fly home.”
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM
Even though it is exciting to get a call or visit from someone expressing definitive and urgent need, here are some cautions to consider as you journey with this family:
- Self-assessment by a friend or family member may not be accurate. Someone on staff must meet the couple to ascertain the best location to meet their needs.
- If your community’s occupancy is healthy, you may not have immediate availability.
- If your community does have availability, it is doubtful that the normal procedure for acceptance (physical/cognitive evaluation, financial qualification, paperwork, prepping the home) can be accomplished “by the time I fly home”, as the daughter/son has no clue about required steps.
- The son and/or daughter may have decided a move is what is best for mom and/or dad, but are mom and dad of the same mindset? Is this an immediate response by children who have completely by-passed their parents in the decision-making process?
EXPLORING A SOLUTION
Don’t assume this need-based call is low-hanging fruit. All of the above factors can make tasks that speed up the move work-intensive or downright impossible, due to unavailability of accommodations or reluctance on the part of parents who have been left out of the decision-making process.In fact, this first inquiry is typically educational catch-up for adult children. Not only are they developing a more realistic assessment of what mom and dad need, they are being forced to learn about the complexities of senior living levels of accommodations, demand, and processes. If availability lends itself to a quick move-in, this is terrific for both the organization and the family.If not, this is an opportunity to educate adult children and coach them as to how to approach mom and dad. Hopefully, you can partner with them to find intermediary means to re-mediate their concerns while the family awaits the right-sized home in the appropriate level of service.
Next week, we will cover the adult child who is the planner.
Read our prior blog about inquiries on the rise around the holidays.
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About the Author
Patty Scotten is a consultant with Retirement DYNAMICS® and serves as their marketing manager. Patty has over twenty five years’ experience in the senior living industry and has led several communities in preselling expansions or increasing occupancy levels. She graduated from Elon University and holds a Masters Degree from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Patty is licensed as both an assisted living and nursing home administrator.