It makes sense; the senior years are a time for celebration and even health improvement. Seniors between the ages of 65 and 79 are the happiest of all age groups, according to a study by the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics that surveyed more than 300,000 people. While this stage of life is often associated with a decline in well-being, including loneliness and dementia, science is showing that specific lifestyle changes – such as exercise, diet and socialization – can turn that story around. And senior living residences are a great place to find opportunities perfect for supporting people just like you.
Your potential move could be something you’ve thought about for a long time, or something your friends are doing that has you intrigued. Maybe you’ve decided that living in a house or condo on your own is not what you want anymore. Whatever your reason for considering senior living, an important step is talking with your adult children about your thoughts, and getting their input.
So, let’s dive into having “the talk.” You’ve got lots of questions and feelings about this next stage, and your kids will too. Making them feel part of the process will make sure everyone is on the same page – because the people who love you most want the best for you.
Shared understanding: the best starting point
This is your decision about your future, and if someone wants to provide their input, consider yourself loved and lucky. Not only do they have your best interests in mind, they’re willing to join you on the journey. They may be a few steps behind you, though, in terms of their research and their perceptions – or misperceptions – of what senior living in a retirement residence or long term care home really looks like. It’s essential to make sure they, and you, have accurate information on which to base your conversation.
Let’s recap. There are two main types of senior living communities – retirement residences and long term care homes. Let’s cover retirement residences first. According to a recent Angus Reid survey commissioned by Revera in 2021, 43 per cent of those surveyed believe retirement homes are for people who cannot live independently. The reality is quite different.
Retirement residences are designed around flexibility and independence. It’s a place where you will have your own suite, set your own schedule, and come and go as you please. You can access a variety of dining services and menu choices, cook for yourself, or blend the two. Whether you are a certified (or family-declared) gourmet at-home chef or a lover of your local restaurant scene, you and your family will be impressed with the restaurant-quality dining options. And you can choose from a broad range of amenities, including (depending on the residence) movie theatres, golf simulators, libraries, art studios, fitness centres, swimming pools and games rooms. Whether you are fully independent or require a range of minimal to daily personal care and support, or even dementia care, there are retirement home options available to you.
Long term care offers a different living environment than retirement residences do in a number of ways, but the most fundamental difference is the level of care offered. If you require around-the-clock care and supervision to reduce your health risks and meet your needs, and to help you with the daily tasks of life such as dressing, bathing and toileting, long term care is a good option for you. Revera’s long term care homes are staffed by caring, compassionate people who are dedicated to providing quality care and supporting the well-being of residents.
Because long term care homes provide medical support, their admission is managed by the public health authorities. The application process for these homes varies by province. Learn more about the agencies in your province.
When you and your kids feel you have a shared understanding of the choices ahead, you’re in a good spot to really start talking about your future. Starting with a level playing field of knowledge helps make the emotional side of the conversation easier.
Slow it down, talk it out
This is about you, and feeling good about your future is the goal; be aware that your kids may have a few emotional reactions at first. They may have trouble seeing you as vulnerable in any way, or perhaps they need to get used to the idea that you may be leaving the home where they grew up. That’s okay, and these feelings are normal. Prepare yourself for the fact that “the talk” may be one of many. But it begins with you.
You are, at this point, in the exploratory stage. Through conversations, you can help identify and express your own feelings, while acknowledging the feelings of others. It is also the time when, through discussions, you will see the value in making a life change. It’s when you will land on what you are trying to achieve and what you want out of this next stage.
The exploratory stage takes time. Enjoy the process and don’t rush through it. But keep in mind, as you begin to embrace the change, that your kids also need time to process, and to express their own emotions.
Digging into the details
You’re feeling good. They’re feeling good. The future looks bright. Now it’s time to nail down some practicalities. This is the evolution of the talk: the creation of a map of needs and nice-to-haves. As you explore the options and learn even more about the different types of care and support, it’s time to do some field research. Book a tour at a retirement home, or even request to stay overnight or for a few days. Visit a long term care facility. Talk to the people living there, to the staff. Try a meal and just take in the atmosphere. Can you imagine yourself living there?
Here’s where your kids come in again. Think about inviting them to join you on a tour, or to join you for a drink to discuss what you just experienced. If you’re selling your home or downsizing, enlist their help. Including them in the process will not only give you some assistance, it will make them feel good too.
Above all, remember that every discussion you have is really about your journey. By talking with ones you love, you’ll know that when the time comes, you’re making the right decision. For you.