While visiting via video conference or by phone, it might be evident that an older relative needs help with everyday activities or that their memory isn’t as sharp.
The holidays are often a good time to conduct a surface assessment of an aging loved one’s health and living situation. However, since the holidays can be a busy time, a meaningful conversation likely could wait until later when there’s more quiet time to talk.
To help with discussions, Bethesda’s Welcome Center helps guide families through transition conversations.
In addition, “if you, yourself, are having concerns, let your family (or friends) know,” said Becki Kallevig, RN, an admissions coordinator at Bethesda. “Aging doesn’t have to be difficult; there are people and services out there willing to help.”
Together, Kallevig and admissions coordinator Kris Johnson staff Bethesda’s Welcome Center. They are available to answer questions about aging in place, in-home care, adult day services, independent-living apartments, assisted-living housing options, skilled nursing care, memory care, and more.
“The Welcome Center is a one-stop-shop where people can call. We listen. We guide. We support. We encourage,” Kallevig said.
For those who have concerns, experts suggest taking time to learn, explore and evaluate senior living options — from home health care to senior housing — and then start having what likely will be a series of conversations with loved ones.
The American Seniors Housing Association offers some advice and questions to consider:
- How is it living alone? Discuss concerns such as managing medications, falling, struggles with bathing.
- Do you feel lonely? How would you feel about being able to connect with people outside your door, just down the hall?
- Would it help to have assistance with cooking, cleaning or laundry? Would you feel less stress if you didn’t have to worry about the house?
- Make time to talk. Pick a time when you and your loved one are rested and can talk without interruption.
- Offer empathy, not sympathy. Be kind and calm; try to understand the fears and frustrations they may feel.
- Don’t rush. You might feel ready to make a decision. However, your loved one might need more time. Coming to an unpressured mutual agreement will pay dividends as you move forward together.
- Plan to talk again. And again. As much as you might want to wrap up things in one conversation, the reality is, this likely will be a series of talks. That’s ok, unless your aging family member is in eminent danger. It’s a process, not a once-and-done discussion.
- Sit back and really listen to their answers. Overloading the conversation with research or statistics can be overwhelming. When people feel overwhelmed, they can get defensive. Defensiveness will end a conversation fast and make it hard to resume. Take your time, and make this a journey of discovery and growth.
Kallevig and Johnson at Bethesda’s Welcome Center help people navigate each family’s situation and decide what steps to take next.
“First, we ask what needs or difficulties they have or their loved one has. Our goal is to have them or their loved one live in the least-restrictive setting possible,” Kallevig said. “So, by figuring out what their needs are, we can determine what type of setting would best suit them.”
Bethesda offers a full continuum of care for older adults – from independent living, to assisted living, to skilled nursing care – all on one campus.
“That in itself – the continuum of care – is a huge relief for people, just knowing that they (or their loved one) will continue to be cared for, whatever their need is,” Kallevig said.
Call our Welcome Center at (320) 214-5643, and Kallevig and Johnson can answer questions, offer advice, and help arrange virtual tours.
To learn about Bethesda’s services, click on any of the links:
- Home health care: Bethesda at Home
- Adult day services: DayBreak
- Independent-living options: Centennial Square and Sunrise Village
- Assisted-living options: Sunrise Village and Park View Village
- Skilled nursing care: Bethesda Grand
- Memory care: Bethesda Grand