It’s a common occurrence, a couple spends a lifetime together and one person’s health changes quicker than the others’. For example, your mother might be healthier and more active than your father. This leads to her caring for him and taking on increased responsibilities in the home. She feels a commitment to support him “in sickness and in health,” but she’s stressed and perhaps even feeling isolated.
As their child, you help as much as possible, but with a job and family of your own, you might be unable to provide all of the support they need.
This challenging situation can be remedied with proper communication and long term care planning. When your parents have differing needs, senior living communities can provide multifaceted care. Use the following pointers from our staff to help with your family’s journey.
Understand the Need for Senior Communities
What are your options when your parents have different health issues and abilities, and as such, overall needs? A community that provides graduated care, like assisted living or memory care, could be the answer. But how do you know when your parents should transition to a senior living community? Common signs include:
- Unable to do tasks like grooming themselves or cooking
- Feelings of isolation for one or both parents
- Neglecting household maintenance
- Forgetting to take medication
- Increasing falls
- The healthier spouse overwhelmed by caregiving responsibilities
- Becoming disoriented or getting lost
- Problems speaking or struggling to find the right words
- A cognitive decline that requires increased supervision
Communicate With Your Parents About the Move
Finding a community where your parents will thrive is the first step. Then persuading your parents and family is another challenge. If parents are resistant to moving, use the following steps to start the conversation:
- Aim to have an honest conversation with your healthier parent. Ask about their frustrations and worries. Practice active listening.
- Suggest alternative housing plans that can make both of their lives simpler and more enjoyable.
- Research with them, looking at nearby communities online, reading reviews, and helping them understand the process. Include them in each step of long term care planning.
- If possible, visit communities to get a sense of their offerings and resident’s day-to-day.
- Give your parents time to accept the idea of moving to a senior community, as well as the opportunity to discuss it amongst themselves.
Get Siblings on the Same Page
When planning a parent’s long-term care, disagreements among siblings, step-relatives and blended families can be inevitable. To minimize potential issues:
- Hold a family meeting with all siblings to discuss your parents’ care.
- Encourage everyone to share their opinions.
- If necessary, have a neutral arbitrator facilitate the meeting. (There might be a representative from the senior living community who can lead the discussions and help you make the difficult decisions).
For more information, refer to our guide, How to Deal With Difficult Family Dynamics When Helping Aging Parents.
Focus on the Benefits of Senior Living Communities
During this process, instead of focusing on the challenges and changes, highlight the benefits. This transition can be difficult for both you, your siblings and your parents; a positive outlook will make all the difference.
For example, at Vineyard, each resident receives an assessment and individualized care plan. We also provide on-site physical and occupational therapy, with 24-hour access to healthcare professionals. Services like housekeeping and laundry ensure that your more-active parent has time to enjoy community activities and socializing with other residents. Our amenities provide an on-site salon, fitness center and world-class dining. The goal is for our residents to THRIVE.
Make Long Term Care Planning Easier for Your Family
If one of your parents is healthier than the other, and one has increased healthcare needs or a condition like early-onset Alzheimer’s, it can be especially challenging. You want to ensure they can live together without one of them feeling overwhelmed or resentful about caregiving. More importantly, you want to ensure they both receive the individual support they need.
Moving to a senior living community with graduated care means a happier and healthier life for both parents. The healthier spouse can minimize their caregiving duties and the less independent partner has access to professional support. Both of your parents will also be able to participate in activities to enhance their physical and emotional wellbeing. With challenging tasks like caregiving, home maintenance, and healthcare management out of the way, your parents can focus on spending quality time with one another, as well as attending to their individual needs. Additionally, as a child, you can rest assured they’re safe and still enjoy visiting and meaningful family time with each other.