We’re breaking down the stages of finding long-term care - or skilled nursing - for your loved one in this four-part series, including noticing the signs that it’s needed, talking about it with your family members, what the costs will be, and how to find the right option for your loved one.
Few things can make people squirm like a tough conversation. It’s never easy to tell a person something they might not want to hear - especially if it’s an emotionally-charged topic. And talking to your loved one about their possible move to long-term care certainly checks those boxes.
As with any difficult talk, planning and preparation are key so you can stay calm throughout. If you’ve recognized signs that your loved one might need long-term care, your next step is to discuss your thoughts with them. Follow these three steps to ensure a productive, positive conversation.
Step 1: Prepare for the Discussion with Family Members
Even if you’re a talk-before-you-think kind of person, it’s best to get your thoughts together before discussing your concerns with your loved one. This way, you’ll ensure you cover everything you want to and are prepared for any push-back.
You’ll need to talk with other family members - siblings, nieces, nephews, or anyone who will be directly involved in your loved one’s care. Explain to them that you’re concerned about your loved one’s decline, and give examples of the signs you’ve noticed.
In this conversation, and in the one you’re planning for your loved one, be respectful of other people’s thoughts, and listen without trying to think of a response. The goal is to make sure everyone is in agreeance, not to win every argument.
Chances are, your family members may agree with you that your loved one needs extra help. Remember that any resistance may come from feelings of guilt, discomfort, or avoidance. Try to diagnose these issues so you can all be on the same page and agree that long-term care for your loved one is the best option.
Step 2: Approach and Listen to Your loved one Respectfully
Ideally, you’ll talk to your loved one about long-term care before it’s an emergency. This gives them time to think about what you’ve said and not feel rushed to make a decision. But even if time is of the essence, try these tips to help the conversation go smoothly.
Remember They’re Your loved one
Even if they’re aging and not able to do many of the things they once could, your loved one is still your loved one. Be respectful of their thoughts and wishes.
And remember - feelings aren’t right or wrong; they just are. Don’t demand to know why they feel a certain way. Instead, accept it as valid, and talk about ways to minimize negative feelings.
Don’t Force the Issue
Unless there’s an immediate need for care - in which case a doctor’s opinion may help - pushing your own ideas on your loved one will only cause tension and resistance. And in most cases, it’s illegal to force someone into skilled nursing without their consent.
Even if it doesn’t come to that extreme, telling someone what to do - especially when they’re your loved one - doesn’t build goodwill. If your loved one is reluctant to talk about the issue, drop it for now and give them time to think about it. Revisit the conversation later, when tensions aren’t running high.
Stay Calm and Positive, But Be Honest
Although it’s a difficult conversation, try your best to stay level-headed. Some families may be famous for their yelling matches, but this isn’t the time for that. By approaching the issue calmly, your loved one will see that you’re serious and looking for the best outcome.
Don’t be frustrated if your loved one will want more than one conversation to figure things out. Think about things from their point of view. This is an enormous life change - you wouldn’t make one without some deep thinking, either.
Finally, don’t be afraid to be honest in this conversation. Remember the notes about feelings above? Yours are valid, too. If this discussion is difficult for you, admit it. You might find this helps bring you closer together.
Step 3: Form a Long-Term Care Plan for the Future
The goal of your conversation with your loved one is to decide on next steps. That may mean beginning to look at long-term care options, whether at a specific location or through in-home care. Or, it may be finding a dedicated family caregiver who will be responsible for your loved one.
Whatever your decision, end the conversation with your loved one and family members by outlining the next steps that need to happen, and when they should be complete. It’s easy to say you’ll start looking sometime this year - and for it to never happen.
Instead, chart out objectives and map each one to a specific person and timeline. This will help everyone stay on track and keep decision-makers accountable.
In the next section of this four-part series, you’ll get information on the costs of long-term care, how you can pay, and more.
Searching for a Long-Term Care Option?
If you’re searching for a long-term care community with expert skilled nursing and a home-like environment, Otterbein SeniorLife may be the right answer. Find a location near you to explore the compassionate, person-centered care you’ll experience.