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Post-Holiday Conversations about Assisted Living

Did you “go home” for the holidays? This family tradition can reconnect you with loved ones whom you may not have seen in months, or even years. These festive occasions can also be revealing as you observe your parents in their home environment. You may be wondering how they can embrace and enjoy higher wellbeing. The New Year may be a good opportunity to open the conversation with your parent about their current living arrangements and see if they desire any changes or need support. Introducing assisted living as an option may improve their quality of life and support their needs now or in the near future.

How do you start the heart-to-heart about living options and support? “It’s important to get all the facts about what’s going on in his or her life,” says Dannene Hirsch, Presbyterian Homes & Services Housing Advisor. “It’s even more important to listen. Ask questions with respect and gentleness and remember that this is a conversation that will occur over time, not once and done. Above all, keep your parent in the ‘driver’s seat’ so that they are making the decisions about their life,” she advises.

Ask your parent about what it takes to maintain their house and how well they can move about it comfortably and effectively. “The house may have served them well for years but is now limiting them,” says Dannene. Find out how much space in the house they actually use, how well they can navigate its interior and how easy or difficult it is to go in and out freely and safely. “Limited mobility beyond the walls can translate into isolation and loneliness,” Dannene observes.

Educate yourself and expand your parent’s understanding of assisted living so that assumptions about “the old folks home” don’t become obstacles. Far from being a nursing home, assisted living at PHS communities offer studio, one or two bedroom apartments with open floor plans and fully equipped kitchens. Each of the thoughtfully designed apartments is complemented by supportive services including housekeeping, meals and personal care. Options like these are borne of the PHS commitment to give older adults the freedom to live well in every way and by every means possible.

Your parent may fear losing their independence if they leave their home. “Assisted living residents make their own decisions and continue to lead their life the way they wish,” Dannene assures. “Your parent will organize their own day, deciding when they want to wake and sleep, eat, exercise, and receive care. They are free to come and go as they please. They can keep their car and even a pet.” she says.

“I’ve watched as people who move to our community live happier, healthier lives,” Dannene says. Assisted living at a PHS community offers robust social opportunities including restaurant-style dining, sharing activities and outings with neighbors and exercising at the wellness center. A consistent, well-trained staff cultivates the high quality of care and relationships.

Showing is better than telling. Scheduling a visit for your parent and you to tour  a PHS community near you will give a first hand look at community life. A housing counselor/advisor will show you an apartment and the distinctive features of the campus, answer your questions and help your parent assess the level of support they need. You or your parent may discover that a friend lives here who can tell you about daily life in their new home.

“The most successful moves I have witnessed are made by seniors, with the support of their grown children, who have done sufficient planning, have researched and visited the choices that are available and know what they want,” said Dannene.

Change is hard for all of us, so be prepared to provide emotional support to your parent and be patient. Ultimately, the goal is to help your parents adapt to their changing situation as they age and support the best possible quality of life in the best living environment for them today and for the future.

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