Caring for older loved ones—whether a parent, aunt, uncle, or grandparent—can be challenging under even the best circumstances. The decision to transition a loved one into a senior living community, while hard for the entire family, is most difficult for the person who’s entering a new phase of their life. Presenting a united front can be crucial to easing their worries about what’s next and making them feel more comfortable about what’s ahead.
Unfortunately, the stress of making a major life decision for someone you all care so deeply about can cause family members to disagree and argue. Everyone reacts to change differently, so while you may be ready to embrace your new role as a caretaker for your parent, a sibling may be in denial about the shifting dynamic and want to hold off on making changes. If you find yourself in a standstill with siblings or other family members when determining what’s best for your elderly loved one, these three tips can help you reach a consensus. Remember, you all want what’s best for your loved one. It just may take time, patience, and a bit of work to come together and agree on the best course of action.
1. Hold a Family Meeting
Often disagreements stem from a breakdown in communication. For siblings juggling their own family lives, especially those who are spread apart geographically, it can be difficult to dedicate uninterrupted time to discuss what’s best. Fragmented texts and quick phone calls can lead to misunderstandings that can cause further disagreements and discontent in the future. Siblings may feel kept out of the loop in decision making, causing them to react negatively. Be proactive about these potential communication breakdowns by holding a family meeting, or a series of family meetings, dedicated solely to discussing and determining the best course of action for your loved one. If possible, hold the meeting in person. If not, a video chat or Zoom call is best so that everyone is fully attentive to the conversation, and nothing gets lost in translation.
2. Get to Know Your Options Together
Often fear of the unknown can be the biggest obstacle to helping your family agree on a plan of care for a loved one. The sibling who may be most resistant to having your parent or relative move into a senior living community may be uninformed about what independent and assisted living looks like for seniors these days. To make sure everyone is on the same page, it pays to spend some time researching your care options together. While you learn about the different levels of care offered and find some potential communities to tour, you may find everyone (even those most resistant to change) changing their mind about what’s best. Touring communities as a family is also a good idea. That way everyone can see firsthand where your loved one may be making their new home, and the whole group can be addressed with answers to questions or concerns.
3. Hire an Expert
If you still find your family in disagreement, hiring a third party to evaluate or mediate the situation may be a good option. A geriatric care manager, a social worker or nurse who specializes in assessing a senior’s needs and coordinating care, can be wonderful resource for families. They can make recommendations and give an objective opinion about what’s best, which may help everyone feel more comfortable that you’re making the right decision for your loved one. Another option is to hire an elder care mediator to minimize conflict and help your family reach a positive consensus about what’s best.
If you’re in search of a community focused on resident-centered care and enthusiastic everyday living, St. Martin’s in the Pines may be an ideal fit for your aging loved one. To schedule a tour, please click here today.