January 26, 2021

Having Sensitive Conversations with a Loved One About Living Transitions

Helping an aging loved one to transition to a new living situation is a big step.

Talking to an aging loved one about changing their living situation can be uncomfortable. Understandably, your loved one may resist change. It is important to talk through options to ensure your loved one is safe and cared for as their needs change.

Acknowledging Resistance with Sensitivity

When discussing transitioning to a new living situation, for example, your loved one may say, “I’m not old enough for that.” It is a common response, but a living situation is not determined by age. Many factors must be considered, such as health, cognitive decline, loneliness, and the ability to maintain a safe home environment.

It may be time to discuss changes if your loved one lives alone and has fallen, left appliances on, lost indoor mobility, or has difficulty taking medicine properly. Lifelong memories are meaningful and live on inside our minds and hearts when we leave a particular home. Safety and well-being are an important priority to keep upfront when talking about the best fit for your loved one.

Moving to a new home may symbolize to your loved one a loss of independence or other negative changes. It is important to evaluate each option to help minimize feelings of loss. By evaluating all options, you can make the best choice by focusing on what your loved one can continue to do, regardless of location.

Living Situation Options

Some of the living situation options for older adults with mental, social, or physical health challenges can include the following:

  • Independent Living with In-home care
    Loved ones who would like to stay in their current home may need assistance with household duties, medical concerns and personal care. This can work well for those who do not have serious medical conditions or need 24/7 care. It is best for those who may need a few hours of personal care daily. In-home custodial care is not provided by Medicare and is covered privately by the patient or family. Government assistance may be available for those who cannot pay out of existing financial resources.
  • Living with a family member
    Living with an aging loved one may be the best solution, but it can be challenging. The family must ensure they have enough space, that they can provide necessary care, and that it will not place an emotional or financial burden on the family. The home must be equipped with handicap accessible steps/ramps and bathrooms and other provisions to reduce the risk of falls. If your loved one requires daily daytime assistance and you work or travel often, this situation may not work. Talk to everyone who lives in your home to set expectations and address any concerns.
  • Assisted living facilities
    An assisted living facility can work well for those who want to maintain independence. Those who need minor nursing assistance and help with activities like dressing or bathing can benefit from this care. Three meals a day are provided, and medical administration is also an option. Residents can maintain a sense of independence as the care they receive changes with their needs. Assisted living can also be a good environment for those who enjoy social activities.
  • Nursing homes
    Nursing homes help those who require 24/7 oversight and supervision with activities of daily living. Nursing home residents are unable to care for themselves and require the assistance of certified nursing assistants who provide personal care and supervision. Nursing is also available for oversight of medical issues including wound care and attention to complex medical conditions. Becoming a resident requires a physician’s prescription and physical examination. Nursing homes can be expensive. Not-for-profit nursing homes offer government assistance for lower-income residents.

Helping an aging loved one to transition to a new living situation is a big step. Talk about what is best for your loved one, the caregiver, and your family. Consider factors such as your loved one’s life goals, personality, medical and social needs, mental health, as well as the cost of the various options. Research your options, and schedule interviews with various services to find the best fit.