As we get closer to or further into our retirement, our plans for the future tend to become clearer. We may have helped our parents make important senior living decisions or discussed estate plans and financial affairs with a spouse. Perhaps grandchildren now shed new light on how we want to spend our later years. You may have already made the decision to move to a senior living community, either now or in a few years. However your plans have formed, one thing is certain: it’s vital to share your plan with your family.
Sometimes, family dynamics, communication styles or privacy concerns may make it difficult for parents and their adult children to discuss issues such as health, end-of-life care and moving. However, families who don’t share their plans may face financial and emotional conflicts down the road, especially if they wait until a crisis forces them to make urgent decisions. On the other hand, sharing senior living plans well in advance can give families opportunities to help with decisions, prepare for the future and experience greater peace of mind.
WHAT TO TALK ABOUT WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT SENIOR LIVING
According to an article by Caring Right At Home, it’s important to discuss all major aspects of your senior life and future plans with your adult children or close relatives who may be affected by your decisions. The following topics include some valuable items to share:
- Your health – Make sure your children have a realistic idea about your current or future health. If you have kept certain health conditions private, consider whether it’s time to share your diagnoses with your children so they understand what your health may be like in the future. It’s especially important to share any health conditions that may be hereditary.
- Your living arrangements – If you’ve made the decision to move to a senior living community, let your children know when you would like to move and why you chose that particular community. Perhaps you plan on moving, but you haven’t narrowed down your choices. Ask for your loved one’s thoughts and opinions if you’d like to hear what they say, or politely explain if you’d prefer to make the choice on your own. Recognize that your move could affect when and how you spend time with your family, so be considerate as you discuss your options and decisions.
- Your future care wishes – Let your children know how you’d like to be taken care of in the case of a serious health crisis. Conversations about end-of-life choices can be difficult, so be sure to breach the topic with empathy. Discuss what kind of long-term care you would prefer, either delivered in your home or at an assisted living or skilled nursing community. This may also be a good time to share the contents of your living will (if you have one) and who you would like to make decisions on your behalf if a medical condition keeps you from doing so yourself.
Before you share your plans with your adult children or close relatives, you will want to decide whether you want your plans set in stone beforehand. Depending on your family dynamics, you may prefer to have moving arrangements and legal or financial plans already in place by the time you share this information – as long as you know your mind won’t change once you hear various opinions about your choices. On the other hand, you may prefer to involve those closest to you in your future planning, especially if your move to a senior living community may greatly affect your relationship with your children or grandchildren.
TIPS FOR HAVING THE CONVERSATION
Discussing future plans isn’t the easiest conversation to have with family, but hopefully these tips can make the process a little easier for you:
- Recognize that you don’t have to discuss everything all at once. If sharing your news about a big move to a community is overwhelming on its own, it might be wise to wait to discuss your end-of-life plans.
- Be patient. Your adult children may not be as ready as you are to have this kind of conversation. Respect their emotions and set the tone for a successful discussion.
- Plan ahead. Waiting until the time is right might keep you waiting longer than you expect. Plan when and where you’ll share your information and be sure everyone you want to be there can attend.
- Be honest. Don’t make up an elaborate reason as to why you made the decisions you did – or refuse to explain your choices. Share your honest desires and concerns openly and help your family see your point of view.
- Seek help if you need it. If necessary, a third party can help you facilitate important information to your family members. Elder law attorneys or geriatric care managers can offer consulting services, which may be helpful in cases of difficult family relations.
If you’re in the process of making major decisions about moving to a senior living community or other future plans, it’s a good time to start considering how you’ll share this information with those closest to you. With careful consideration and a bit of planning, you can be sure to include your children in the ways you desire. For more guidance on this topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to 55Living for helpful tips and advice.
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