The Family’s Role in the Retirement Living Decision

When parents and their grown children begin to explore retirement living options, family members may experience a range of emotions. But a family working together can play a vital role in making a parent’s transition a positive and comfortable one for everyone.

Communication is key

No two families are alike, so every family needs to speak openly about the prospect of retirement community living. The necessary foundation for a healthy discussion: How can we improve the quality of life for a parent or parents? Some families may resist a parent’s decision to move from their home because of emotional ties, and some parents may feel that making a move means giving up independence. Families should address these common but essential concerns and, at the same time, focus on how to create a brighter future.

Research as a family

In the process of deciding on a retirement community, everyone will have questions. What programs are important? What about safety? How’s the food? Compiling a “master list” of questions for the decision-making process offers a great framework for research: questions about security, accommodations, social activities and events, health and fitness facilities, and many others.

Make your visits count

Once a family has compiled a “short list” of possible venues, families should schedule times to visit. They should allow an appropriate amount of time each visit to speak to staff and residents, tour a typical residence and walk through the community. If possible, tour with a current resident to gain a more in-depth perspective. At Lutheran SeniorLife, we encourage parents and families to experience the culture and feel of the community by meeting with our staff and residents as often as you see fit.

Follow up… together

Once a family decides on a retirement community, they should approach the transition with enthusiasm. Ideally, the experience of choosing the community together should eliminate many of the initial fears of making the move. After a new resident has settled into a community, family members should make every effort to become appropriately involved in activities to the degree their family member may want. In doing so, they accomplish two crucial things: first, they can continue to learn more about this new phase of their family member’s life, and secondly, the can confirm that their loved one is flourishing in their new home.