Tips for Having the Conversation About Shared Senior Living with Your Older Loved One

Two elder woman in shared senior living having a conversation on the sofa.

Families navigating the challenges of dementia care for their loved ones are reassured when they realize they do not have to travel this road alone. There are many educational and community resources to help prepare for the journey.

If your loved one’s needs now exceed what can be offered at home – or quality of life is suffering – it might be time to have a memory care conversation. And if a shared senior living apartment or a companion suite makes this choice viable and affordable, you’ll want to discuss this option as well.

Shared senior living: The benefits in memory care

Take time to educate yourself and other family members about memory care, including the services offered and the advantages for residents.

The following are a few of the benefits available:

1. Specialized care: Memory communities provide specialized care tailored to the needs of individuals living with dementia. The staff receive training in the best practices of Alzheimer’s or other dementia care.

2. Safety and security: Memory care communities are designed with safety and security as a priority. You’ll discover layouts that promote freedom of movement yet secured entrances and exits that prevent wandering.

3. Engagement and socialization: Memory care communities understand the physical and cognitive benefits of activities that promote engagement, socialization and stimulation.

4. Healthy dining and eating assistance: The ability to eat and maintain an appetite will likely decline as the disease progresses. A memory care community provides assistance if needed and foods that appeal and offer independence.

5. Family support: Families appreciate the support they receive from memory care communities, including education, emotional encouragement and compassionate suggestions for interacting with their loved ones.

Download our complimentary Family Decision Toolkit.

Starting the conversation about shared senior living

Preparations ahead of time and the following tips can help guide your family in discussing shared senior living in a memory care community:

1. Choose the right time and place to talk: Find a quiet and familiar setting. Choose a time when your loved one is most alert and calm and other family members can be present.

2. Be empathetic and respectful: Approach this conversation with empathy, patience and respect. Acknowledge that adjusting to a community may take time but there will be support.

3. Use simple and clear language: Use straightforward language to ensure your loved one understands the benefits of memory care and shared companion suites.

4. Listen Actively: Encourage your loved one to express their feelings and concerns. Unless in crisis, don’t present the decision as one that has already been made.

Discuss the benefits of shared living in memory care

For many families, sharing a companion suite makes the services of a memory care community affordable. Otherwise, they may be left to piece together additional care, activities and companionship while trying to create a safe environment for their loved one.

The advantages of shared senior living extend far beyond the financial, however, and also include:

1. Friendly companionship: An advantage of sharing a companion suite is having the camaraderie of a friend to enjoy daily life. Shared living offers the benefit of supporting well-being while alleviating loneliness and isolation.

2. Shared experiences: Your loved one may find it comforting to have someone to talk to or engage with in activities. Residents may encourage each other to try something new and become more active members of the community.

3. Alleviation of fear and anxiety: The presence of another person can help alleviate fears and anxiety that otherwise may increase when spending time alone. Residents in companion suites often experience less apprehension.

4. Peace of mind for the family and resident: Older adults may have been living with loneliness at home and became more withdrawn. Not only do loved ones feel reassured when sharing their memory care suite, but family members also appreciate knowing they are not isolated.

5. Personalized attention and programs: Regardless of whether your loved one and family take advantage of a companion suite in memory care, you all will receive the personalized care and attention offered to the residents and their families in the community.

Shared senior living: Additional considerations

The following are a few other recommendations that families have found helpful when having conversations with their loved one about shared senior living:

Understand their fears: Acknowledge and address any fears or misconceptions your loved one may have about memory care, sharing a companion space or leaving their home.

Offer reassurance: Reassure your loved one that their dignity, independence and personal preferences will be respected.

Involve them in the decision-making: Make your loved one feel a part of the decision-making process. This can include visiting different communities together or discussing options openly.

Seek professional advice: If needed, involve a healthcare professional who can help explain the benefits of memory care in a manner that resonates with your loved one. This can also be useful if other family members disagree about the option of memory care.

Discover life at a Northbridge community

If you’re considering senior living for yourself or a family member, we hope you’ll visit one of our communities. You’ll find a maintenance-free, activity-filled and engaging lifestyle to help support your wellness goals.

You’ll also discover many benefits in a Northbridge Senior Living community, including our Signature Program S.T.A.R. Club (Sharp Thinking, Active Residents) – which offers our residents several activities to participate in with others, including:

  • Daily exercise group
  • Walking club
  • Tai Chi & yoga
  • Nutritional classes
  • Library and book club
  • Museum outings
  • Artists in residence program
  • Multi-generational music
  • Genealogy Generations

We’re here to answer any of your questions. Please contact us if we can provide further information or if you would like to schedule a personalized tour. Download our complimentary Family Decision Toolkit.

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