Talking to an Aging Sibling About Assisted Living
It’s common for adult children to help their parents look for senior care as they get older, but that’s not always the case. A growing population of older adults who don’t have children have to rely on other family members or friends to navigate challenges as they age; 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.
How to Navigate Family Dynamics with Your Sibling
Starting a conversation with your sibling about moving to Assisted Living can be difficult. Some older adults view moving to Assisted Living as a setback 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:
Bring up 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 floating 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.
Share 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.
Control your emotions. 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.
Educate yourself. 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.
Explore 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.
Focus on 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.
Help with next steps. 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 ways to support 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 Walnut Place in Dallas, Texas.