Navigating Family Dynamics for a Successful Senior Transition Conversation

Getting an entire family to agree to just about anything can be difficult, but gaining consensus on the when, where, why, and how of moving a parent to a senior living community can be downright contentious. However, understanding and working with — rather than against — family dynamics and using other resources can go a long way toward bridging the gap and enabling a smooth transition.

Family dynamics: they’re complicated

Families are composed of humans; family dynamics are fraught with all the emotions, relationships, stressors, and conflicts inherent in life itself, and they’re compounded by decades of family history.

As the parent eases out of the caregiver role to become the one requiring care, siblings often take on roles that put them in a perceived position of power that others may resent simply because they are the one doing most of the caregiving.

In some families, certain siblings may be favored by a parent which can also cause negative feelings, or siblings try to control a parent or the situation from afar, doing none of the work but expecting full authority.

In reality, the possible scenarios within family dynamics are endless and can cause ongoing strife and anxiety that make life more difficult than it has to be. To better grasp the intricacies of family dynamics, the Psychology Today article, “Understanding Family Dynamics,” is an excellent resource.

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Ways to improve family dynamics

With some family dynamics, it may not even seem possible to get everyone onboard to make the right decision for a transition to senior living. There are positive steps that can help, though.

Start by establishing why the parent should move or would want to move to senior living and explain it clearly to every sibling at the same time with the same language. If the parent is not onboard, also be sure to explain to them first why senior living is the best choice, including how modern senior living has improved as described in our blog, “5 Ways Today’s Senior Living Communities Have Changed for the Better.” One key component of this step is to also listen to what each has to say with empathy and respect.

Next, set up a family meeting to discuss the transition specifics and ask each sibling to prepare their questions and to also take time to look online at senior living communities in the proposed area. To eliminate the perception that one sibling is in charge, ask for volunteers to create a transition team to visit different senior living communities, ask pertinent questions of team members, and help keep everyone else informed. This automatically establishes the need for cooperation and consensus which are required for a smooth transition. More great ideas for building better family dynamics can be found in the article, “Tips On How To Identify And Handle Unhealthy Family Dynamics.”

Let the senior living pros help

The team members at top senior living communities like Thrive Senior Living are experienced professionals who are trained in helping families and seniors make the transition to senior living. These dedicated pros give families peace of mind and confidence in the knowledge that their loved one will live in a place where they will happily thrive and be fulfilled.

From the first conversation, they’ll offer to help ease negative family dynamics by sitting down with families, explaining every detail of the community from housing to meals to activities and will also take special note of care needs, whether that is provided in assisted living or memory care.

When the cost of senior living is part of the problem, families can also expect complete transparency from the professionals who will provide written costs for different housing options and levels of care. Keep in mind that they realize that different families and seniors have different needs and financial capabilities and will not judge or criticize, but instead they will try to help to define the best possible choices.

For those seeking a transition to memory care, it is also essential to note the level of specialized training memory care team members have. For example, at Thrive Senior Living we require that every (yes, every!) team member has extensive memory care training so families can rest easy knowing that their loved one is in the best possible hands 24/7/365. To find out more about choosing the right senior living community, check out our blog, “The Top Considerations When Choosing a Senior Living Community.”

Changing difficult family dynamics to positive relationships takes perseverance but it is the best way to make a happier transition for a senior parent. For more information, download our “Family Decision Toolkit” and contact us to schedule a tour for your transition team.

Thrive Family Decision Toolkit Guide