Family Advice from the Senior Living Experts: “Begin the Conversation Early”

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Guest Blog by Adele Lund, Director, Community & Business Relations, Laureate Group

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with thousands of adult children as they navigate the transition of a loved one from their home of many years to a senior community or care facility. I have observed that when a family hasn’t had an ongoing dialogue with their parent about possible changes in the future, siblings often form different ideas of what would be best for mom or dad.   When finally confronted with decisions, each child brings their own experience, as well as their personal conversations over the years with their parent.  And while each sibling may be right to some degree, their different perspectives of what is “best” for mom or dad cause undue conflict at a time when the family can least afford it.

As the need for change draws closer, older adults are less inclined to talk about it, for fear their children are going to force them to do something.  I encourage adult children to begin the conversation about their parents’ future long before the need for change is upon them.

When you have a loved one with memory loss, one of the hardest things to do is make decisions for them.  We’ve always felt that we are doing the honorable thing by allowing our parents to take part in decisions about their future.   

The problem is, by virtue of the diagnosis of memory loss, a parent’s ability to take part in these decisions may be limited. They may not even be able to recall what was discussed a few minutes ago, so all the valid reasons for making the changes we discussed last week, yesterday and again this morning are possibly gone. When that’s true, how “honoring” is it to expect them to make decisions they’re no longer capable of making?  No matter how hard they try, no matter how responsible they’ve always been, the logic and thought process needed to make a good decision about their own future is simply no longer in their skill set. “

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Laureate Group operates eight senior communities throughout the Greater Milwaukee area.

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