A lingering stigma prevents many from discussing Senior Living Communities with their elderly mother or father. Perhaps it’s not a really a stigma, but the reluctance to face a sad reality that mom or dad or aunt or uncle are no longer able to care for themselves, or their house.
The circumstances can slowly creep up on your family… Perhaps your parent shouldn’t be driving any more or has already stopped driving, and can’t easily travel to a grocery store. Perhaps your parent or aunt has gotten forgetful, and shouldn’t be using a stove because they’ve forgotten to turn it off more than an acceptable number of times. Perhaps their doctor has contacted you about them not taking medications.
If you live in Massachusetts or elsewhere in the Northeast, or anywhere the winters bring snow and ice, you probably experience an extra level of apprehension about slips, falls, and broken hips.
For some, a calamitous event like a fall or a sudden illness thrust the decision about senior living communities upon the family in an instant.
While you may see a frail, stubborn old person sitting in that chair, you have to remember that your mom or dad were once vibrant, young, and ready to conquer the world in their own way. If they are World War II veterans, they literally have defended the world in their youth. Admitting they need help in everyday life is an acceptance of the failing of their physical bodies. Put yourself in their shoes. It’s not easy.
Indeed, some families communicate well enough to have already prepared “Living Wills” and discussed end-of-life matters. However, that seems more the exception than the rule. Let’s face it: few of us like discussing and actually considering our own mortality.
Who is the Decision Maker for Senior Living Community Selection?
As it pertains to the Senior Living industry, the last type of family is the most prepared, and the seniors themselves have been involved in the decision process all along. The Seniors have been able to discuss all their options, consider what services communities offer, and discuss them with their adult children. They make the decision for themselves.
In other cases the decision maker gets dragged into research and the decision process reluctantly by family. Elderly spouses may have partners very reluctant to face their own failings. Parents may refuse to face the condition of their homes, or that they can no longer care for themselves. Or, adult siblings charged with the critical decision about housing for their mom or dad may have to coerce another into active participation. For many, the decision possibly reinforces their own aging which they’ve tried to deny for years. This reality check is unwelcome at best. The reluctant decision maker is either the senior or the adult child in this case.
For others, it may take a “wake-up-call” to realize they actually do need help. They may experience a medical emergency, or a moment of clarity after narrowly avoiding a self-inflicted disaster, or a moment of clarity about the progression of a medical condition. There is an urgency to a senior community selection after a wake-up call, but the senior may still be involved.
And finally, there are the decision-makers who are thrust into the role in an emergency. They have no time to carefully evaluate options. Typically unprepared adult children find themselves making decisions for their elder loved one who can no longer process the myriad options presented to them.
Having no time to prepare in such a situation, the focus is on the fundamental capabilities of a community, with little to no regard for any kinds of extras a community may provide.
As difficult and uncomfortable as it is, it is best to begin having the discussion with the elders in your family and your siblings. Will they move in with you? Do you have the room? Is your house accessible enough for an elderly parent to get around? Or, will everyone be the most comfortable if they live with their peers in a senior living community?
Senior Living Options
Once you begin to research senior living communities for your mom or dad or aunt or uncle, the number of options you will find may surprise you. For example, there are at least six senior living communities in Danvers MA, and 31 within a ten mile radius of Danvers, and 334 across the state of Massachusetts…
Start the discussions as soon as you can so when the time comes, your decision can be based on all the most desired options, and not the least common denominator of capabilities of the communities in your targeted neighborhood.