Deciding where aging loved ones should spend their golden years can be tough. It’s common for American seniors to want to age in place, but that solution isn’t always practical. Dangers that are obvious to younger family members may not seem important to aging loved ones who are prioritizing independence above all else, and conversations about alternative senior living arrangements can be emotional and difficult.
When aging family members are in denial about the need for senior care services, their loved ones may need to intervene. Read on to find out how to talk about a loved one living in denial and come up with a game plan that involves getting everyone in the family to help.
Start by Identifying Reasons for Disagreement
When adult children present the idea of moving to a senior living community to a parent in denial, they should present a unified front. Start by sitting down for a conversation about what everyone’s concerns are and try to identify points of disagreement. For many families, those include the following.
1. Disagreements About Levels of Care Required
It’s common for family members who don’t live in the same city or spend the same amount of time with seniors to have very different impressions of how their loved ones are doing. The people closest to them may feel it’s time to look into memory care homes, while those who only visit once in a while might think an aging parent is doing just fine.
One great way to put this disagreement to rest is to consult a neutral third party like the person’s primary care physician or geriatrician. It can also help to request a house call from an independent elder care expert who can evaluate the situation more objectively. That way, if one sibling is in denial, they can’t claim that the others are being unobjective.
2. Disparate Levels of Involvement
Every family’s dynamics are different, but unfortunately, it’s normal for the responsibility of providing care for seniors to fall on one sibling while the others play more hands-off roles. Whether the person is the oldest, closest, or just the sibling with the greatest emotional connection, the informally designated family caregiver can develop burnout.
It’s common for family caregivers, especially those who live in the same home, to advocate more strongly for assisted living homes and other senior care options. Other family members may be in denial or have too little information about the situation to make an informed decision. Family members who live far away or spend little time with aging loved ones should defer to those who spend more time with, take on greater levels of responsibility for, and better understand the care needs of seniors.
3. Presence or Absence of Parental Consent
When parents want to move into memory care communities, there is rarely any pushback from adult children and other loved ones. However, many seniors are just as much in denial about their current abilities and options as out-of-town or otherwise absent loved ones. Siblings who may not see the extent of the parent’s issues at home may side with them, remembering earlier times or making decisions based on emotional attachment, while others could believe that investigating senior care options is the only responsible decision.
If battle lines have already been drawn, it can help to get an outside opinion. Siblings who are in denial about a parent’s ability to maintain their independence safely at home often have misconceptions about what it means to seek alternative senior living arrangements, so touring assisted living communities or interviewing geriatric care specialists can help. Once everyone is on the same page, it will be easier to convince aging loved ones that it’s time to explore other options.
4. Financial Disagreements
Caring for elderly family members doesn’t just take time and energy. It also requires a significant financial obligation. Siblings and other family members often find that who pays for senior care, and how, is a point of contention. Unfortunately, many financial disagreements hinge on issues with adult children who feel that designated caregivers are “spending too much” to provide care.
In some cases, pushing for a smaller budget comes from a place of selfishness, especially if a family inheritance is involved. In others, some family members may simply not understand what’s fiscally practical. If this is an issue, look into options for getting financial help.
Find the Right Senior Living Option
Seeing what it’s really like to live in an assisted living community in Fresno, CA, can help to assuage some people’s concerns. Summerfield of Fresno provides advanced memory care services to residents, allowing them to maintain independence safely. Adult children of aging parents can call (559) 446-6226 to discuss concerns with a qualified specialist or schedule a tour.