How to Talk to an Aging Sibling About Assisted Living
As you and your sibling(s) get older, you may start to think about the future and who will be there to help if someone experiences a decline in health. Every family situation is different, and some family members may not have children to take care of them later in life. A growing population of older adults have to rely on other family members or friends to navigate challenges as they age, and in many cases, it’s siblings who are looking out for each other. At least 16% of adults 55 and older are childless, according to Census Bureau data, and this number is expected to continue to rise in future generations.
Family Communication Is Essential
Making the suggestion that a sibling should consider moving to Assisted Living can be a sensitive subject in many families. Some older adults view moving to Assisted Living as a threat to their independence and/or a major decision they want to make on their own terms. Someone who’s struggling to manage tasks at home may resist asking for help (or accepting help), because they don’t want to burden family members.
Assisted Living is a level of care that provides extra help with personal care, medication management and activities of daily living. If the idea of having to speak with your sibling about needing help managing tasks at home makes you uncomfortable, you’re not alone. While there’s no one-size-fits-all way for families to start the conversation, here are some helpful tips:
Float the idea. It’s important to talk with your loved one about their plans for future care before their situation becomes critical. It can be as simple as mentioning the idea of moving to a senior living community or asking how they want to spend their time in retirement. Having these conversations sooner than later can break the ice and make it easier to bring up again when the time is right.
Bring up your concerns. There’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with aging, and it’s OK to share your concerns with your sibling. Perhaps you’re worried about the safety risks of living alone or difficulty driving. Let them know you want to face any challenges on the road ahead together.
Keep calm. Because you have a long history together, siblings may be quick to criticize and call attention to each other’s mistakes. Feelings of anger or resentment may flare if siblings feel they’re being bombarded with criticism. A calm and positive approach can help keep the lines of communication open.
Research the type of care needed. If your sibling is dealing with a diagnosis of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or other progressive or chronic conditions, learning more can help you be prepared to support them. Making plans now, before their health status changes, allows your family member to be an active participant in their care instead of having care decisions made for them in a crisis.
Check out senior living options. Whether you’re researching options for yourself or a sibling, it pays to look for senior housing and healthcare before it’s needed. During your search, compare the costs, levels of care, and floor plans offered in each community. It will be helpful if you can visit the campus, interview staff and meet other residents. You’ll want to find a place that feels like home, with a host of amenities and services to make life easier.
Highlight the benefits. When you talk with your sibling about the reasons to move to Assisted Living, focus on what they have to gain by moving. The best senior living communities offer maintenance-free living; restaurant-style dining; on-site healthcare; and a full schedule of social events, exercise classes and enrichment activities. Having the freedom to spend time socializing and pursuing their interests can actually help older adults maintain their independence longer.
Smooth the transition. The process of downsizing and sorting through a lifetime of belongings can be overwhelming. Some older adults worry about leaving the familiarity of home and starting over in a new place. Understanding potential roadblocks can help everyone move forward with confidence. To learn more, read another of our blog posts on strategies for supporting a family member moving to Assisted Living.
Find the Right Support for Your Family
Every family’s situation is unique, and we’re here to help you find solutions to ease the transition to Assisted Living. As you prepare for next steps, we encourage you to learn more about our personalized approach to Assisted Living at Signature Pointe in Dallas, Texas.